Moving Grain: Fuel Price Reaches All-Time Record High of $5.509

    Photo: © Debra L. Ferguson

    Fuel Price Reaches All-Time Record High of $5.509

    For the week ending May 2, 2022, the U.S. average diesel fuel price rose to $5.509 per gallon, 34.9 cents from the previous week and 236.7 cents above the same week last year. Reflecting an increase of 40.8 cents per gallon from 3 weeks ago, this week’s diesel price is the highest since March 14’s of $5.25 per gallon.

    This week’s price also marks the highest-ever price on record and contains the second-largest week-to-week increase on record. (The largest week-to-week increase of 74.5 cents occurred just under 2 months ago, on March 7.)

    In the Midwest—locus of the key grain-producing States—the diesel price rose to $5.329 per gallon, 34.2 cents per gallon and 224.4 cents above the same time last year. Diesel provides the main fuel for trucks, railroad engines, barges, and oceangoing vessels. A surge in diesel prices directly impacts transportation costs.

    Wheat Inspections Increase Sharply

    For the week ending April 28, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 2.7 million metric tons (mmt), down 13 percent from last year and up 9 percent from the 3-year average.

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    Total grain inspections were also up 4 percent from the previous week, reflecting a 33-percent jump in wheat inspections and a 1-percent increase in corn inspections. Inspections destined to Latin America accounted for most of the wheat increase. Corn accounted for about 49 percent of total grain inspections for the week, while wheat accounted for 15 percent.

    Inspections of soybeans, however, were down 1 percent from the previous week and accounted for 36 percent of total grain inspections. Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections rose 37 percent from the past week, and Texas Gulf inspections rose 21 percent.

    Maintenance of Panama Canal Locks May Restrict Transit, May 7-19

    Several tentatively scheduled outages may affect Panama Canal traffic this month. On May 7, the east lane of the Panama Canal’s Gatum Panamax Locks may be out of service for 6 hours on May 7 and 12 hours on May 9 for maintenance work. On May 8, the west lane of the Locks may be out of service for 12 hours.

    During these outages, the locks’ daily transit capacity is estimated at 25-27 vessels—down from the normal capacity of 34-36 vessels. From May 10-19, a tentatively scheduled culvert-repair outage at the Gatum Locks is estimated to reduce daily transit capacity to 26-28 vessels (down from 34-36 vessels, normally).

    No major delays are anticipated. The locks’ exact transit capacity depends on vessel mix, transit restrictions, and other factors. A majority of U.S. grain destined to Asia transits the canal.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending April 21, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans for marketing year 2021/22 totaled 32.6 million metric tons (mmt), down 7 percent from the same time last year and down 3 percent from the previous week.

    Net corn export sales were 0.867 mmt, down 1 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were 0.481 mmt, up 5 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.032 mmt, up 23 percent from the previous week.

    Rail

    U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,106 grain carloads during the week ending April 23. This was a 18-percent increase from the previous week, 9 percent fewer than last year, and 3 percent fewer than the 3-year average.

    Average May shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $1,525 above tariff for the week ending April 28. This was $1,021 less than last week and $1,567 more than this week last year.

    Barge

    For the week ending April 30, barged grain movements totaled 790,572 tons. This was 12 percent less than the previous week and 18 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending April 30, 493 grain barges moved down river—56 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 680 grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans region, 7 percent fewer than last week.

    Ocean

    For the week ending April 28, 36 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—3 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting April 29), 39 vessels were expected to be loaded—25 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of April 28, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $79.00. This was unchanged from the previous week. The rate from the PNW to Japan was $44.25 per mt, 1 percent less than the previous week.

    Full report.




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