Panama Canal Announces Closures for Maintenance Work
Today, February 24, the east lane of the Panama Canal’s Miraflores Panamax Locks will be out of service for 12 hours for scheduled maintenance work. During the outage, the locks’ daily estimated transit capacity will be 25-27 vessels, down from their normal capacity of 34-36 vessels.
On March 2, the Miraflores Panamax Locks’ west lane will be closed for scheduled maintenance. During the west lane closure, the locks’ estimated daily transit capacity will be reduced to 28-30 vessels (down from 34-36, normally).
The locks’ exact transit capacity depends on vessel mix, transit restrictions, and other factors. The Panama Canal is a vital outlet for U.S. grain destined to Asia.
EIA Forecasts Average Crude Oil and Diesel Fuel Prices To Fall in 2022
In its February 8 Short-Term Energy Outlook, the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts average 2022 price trends for both crude oil and diesel fuel. EIA estimates prices for both commodities will increase in February and then start to decrease in March and throughout the remainder of the year.
Grain News on AgFax
To explain the projected rise in prices, EIA cites expectations of lower global supplies during the first half of 2022. EIA further explains, “Oil prices have also risen as result of heightened market concerns about the possibility of oil supply disruptions, notably related to tensions regarding Ukraine, paired with receding market concerns that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 will have widespread effects on oil consumption.”
For the week ending February 21, U.S. average diesel fuel prices reached $4.055 per gallon—the highest in 9 years and 3.6 cents above the previous week. Prices have risen 44.2 cents per gallon over the past 7 weeks.
Grain Inspections Rise in the Texas Gulf and Atlantic Port Regions
For the week ending February 17, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 3.1 million metric tons (mmt)—unchanged from the previous week. Year to date, total grain inspections were down 16 percent from the same period last year.
Mainly because of rising shipments to Asia and Mexico, wheat inspections increased 17 percent, while corn inspections increased 8 percent from the previous week. Soybean inspections were down 16 percent. Also, Texas Gulf total grain inspections increased 31 percent, while Atlantic total grain inspections increased 12 percent from the previous week.
Grain inspections for the last 4 weeks were 7 percent below the same period last year and 14 percent above the 3-year average.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending February 10, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans for marketing year 2021/22 totaled 37.7 million metric tons (mmt), down 26 percent from the same time last year, and down 2 percent from the previous week.
Net corn export sales were 0.820 mmt, up 39 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were 1.362 mmt, down 15 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.118 mmt, up 39 percent from the previous week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 24,265 grain carloads during the week ending February 12. This was a 3-percent increase from the previous week, 6 percent more than last year, and 18 percent more than the 3-year average.
Average March shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $21 above tariff for the week ending February 17. This was $10 less than last week and $202 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.
For the week ending February 19, barged grain movements totaled 540,250 tons. This was 27 percent higher than the previous week and 11 percent higher than the same period last year.
For the week ending February 19, 365 grain barges moved down river—95 more barges than the previous week. There were 741 grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans Region, 10 percent fewer than last week.
For the week ending February 17, 39 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—15 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting February 18), 48 vessels were expected to be loaded—16 percent fewer than the same period last year.
As of February 17, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $66.00. This was 2 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $36.25 per mt, 1 percent more than the previous week.