Moving Grain: White House Announces Huge Release From Strategic Oil Reserves

    Diesel, gas island. ©Debra L Ferguson

    White House Announces Huge Release From Strategic Oil Reserves

    Reduced oil supplies, resulting from the war in Ukraine, are raising oil and gas prices. In response, on March 31, the President announced the largest release of oil reserves in U.S. history: an average 1 million additional barrels per day will enter the market for the next 6 months.

    This record release is intended to bridge the supply shortfall until the end of the year when domestic production is expected to increase. To help spur domestic production, the Administration is urging companies to produce more oil: companies producing from their leased acres and existing wells will not face higher fees.

    However, companies that continue to sit on nonproducing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre. The U.S. Department of Energy will use the revenue generated by the release of oil reserves to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for future years.

    DOT Offers $2.9 Billion for Regional and Multijurisdictional Infrastructure Projects

    The U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced $2.9 billion for major infrastructure projects, available under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) streamlines access to three major discretionary grant programs.

    Using a single application and common set of criteria, the application process allows communities to apply to one, two, or three of the following: the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (MEGA) program; Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program (INFRA); and Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (RURAL). Awarded on a competitive basis, the grants will support multijurisdictional or regional projects across multiple modes of transportation.

    For the three programs, eligible projects include those for highways, bridges, rail, multimodal freight, ports, and tunnels.

    America’s Marine Highway Program Gains $25 Million in New Funding

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently announced $25 million in grant funding for America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP). These new resources represent the largest single appropriation ever to AMHP—enabled by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

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    AMHP’s main goal is to increase use of the Nation’s navigable waterways. The latest funding is expected to expand waterborne transportation options; help project sponsors reduce landside infrastructure costs; reduce delays caused by congestion; and improve the Nation’s supply chain and movement of goods throughout the country.

    To be eligible for a grant, a project must have been previously designated, by the Secretary of Transportation, as a Marine Highway Project.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending March 24, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans for marketing year 2021/22 totaled 36.8 million metric tons (mmt), down 15 percent from the same time last year and down 2 percent from the previous week.

    Net corn export sales were 0.637 mmt, down 35 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were 1.306 mmt, up significantly from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.095 mmt, down 39 percent from the previous week.

    Rail

    U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,516 grain carloads during the week ending March 26. This was a 3-percent decrease from the previous week, 8 percent fewer than last year, and 2 percent fewer than the 3-year average.

    Average April shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $1,550 above tariff for the week ending March 31. This was $1,206 less than last week and $1,346 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

    Barge

    For the week ending April 2, barged grain movements totaled 660,750 tons. This was 18 percent less than the previous week and 15 percent less than the same period last year.

    For the week ending April 2, 404 grain barges moved down river—88 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 711 grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans region, 6 percent fewer than last week.

    Ocean

    For the week ending March 31, 33 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—13 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting April 1), 48 vessels were expected to be loaded—7 percent more than the same period last year.

    As of March 31, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $78.50. This was unchanged from the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $44.00 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.

    Fuel

    For the week ending April 4, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 4.1 cents from the previous week to $5.144 per gallon, 200.0 cents above the same week last year.

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