Moving Grain: Vessel Loading Activity Ticking Up

Port of New Orleans - Mississippi River. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Grain Vessel Loading Activity Ticking Up

Oceangoing grain vessel loading activity in the U.S. Gulf and PNW is trending upward. From the week ending October 3 to the week ending 24, an average of 34 vessels per week were loaded in the U.S. Gulf, compared to 32 vessels per week during the prior 8 weeks. An average of 49 vessels are expected during the next 10 days compared to 41 vessels during the prior 8 weeks. An average of 16 vessels per week were loading or waiting to load in the PNW from the week ending October 3 to the week ending 24, compared to 14 vessels during the prior 8 weeks.

Panama Canal Ends Its 2019 Fiscal Year With Record Tonnage

On October 9, 2019, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced it ended its fiscal year (FY) 2019, which runs from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, with more tonnage being moved through the canal than in the previous year—469 million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons compared to 442 million tons registered a year earlier. This a 6.2 percent increase over a year earlier and 4 percent more than the canal’s projection for FY 2019.

The container segment supplied the largest amount of cargo with 164.87 million tons, followed by: bulk carriers at 76.5 million tons, vehicle carrier or roll on roll off vessels at 53.1 million tons, chemical tankers at 44.3 million tons, liquefied natural gas vessels at 43 million tons, liquefied petroleum gas vessels at 37.8 million tons, crude product tankers at 22.6 million tons, and passenger vessels at 9.9 million tons.

Despite the tariff war with China, more soybeans transited the canal from the Atlantic Rim to the Pacific Rim during ACP’s recently concluded fiscal year, with 7.04 million metric tons (mmt) in 2019 compared to 5.39 mmt in 2018.

Weekly Grain Inspections Unchanged; Soybeans Rise

For the week ending October 24, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.58 million metric tons (mmt). Inspections were unchanged from the previous week and from last year, but were 19 percent below the 3-year average. Inspections of wheat and corn decreased 10 percent and 34 percent, respectively, from the previous week, but soybean inspections increased 18 percent.

Total grain inspections in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) increased 12 percent from the past week, and Mississippi Gulf inspections decreased 5 percent. During the last 4 weeks, grain inspections were 12 percent below last year and 27 percent below the 3-year average.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending October 17, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 24 mmt. This represents a 26-percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales reached .491 mmt, up 33 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were .475 mmt, down 70 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales reached .262 mmt, down 34 percent from the from the previous week.

Grain News on AgFax


Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 20,620 grain carloads during the week ending October 19. This is a 1-percent decrease from the previous week, 8 percent less than last year, and 15 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Average November shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $47 below tariff for the week ending October 24. This is $141 less than last week and $72 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

Barge

For the week ending October 26, barge grain movements totaled 664,002 tons. This is a 114-percent increase from the previous week and 66 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending October 26, 414 grain barges moved down river. This is 218 more barges than the previous week. There were 605 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 25 percent less than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending October 24, 36 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—9 percent more than the same period last year. Fifty-one vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days (starting October 25). This is 2 percent fewer than the same period last year.

As of October 24, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $50.50. This is 2 percent less than the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $28.00 per mt, 2 percent less than the previous week.

Fuel

For the week ending October 28, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 1.4 cents from the previous week to $3.064 per gallon. This price is 29.1 cents lower than the same week last year.

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