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March 18, 2011

Grain Movement to Port of Paranagua Returning Slowly

Emergency repairs have been made to several bridges on highway BR-277 that links the Port of Paranagua to the interior of Parana. The bridges had been partially destroyed by heavy rains last weekend that also resulted in mud slides that blocked part of the highway. After nearly a week of disruptions, port officials are now confident that the situation at the port will slowly improve.

Trucks hauling grain to the port are held at interior staging areas and are only allowed to proceed to the port after they have been issued a pass code. The on-line system of pass codes had been suspended since last Friday, but the system is gradually returning to more normal levels as emergency road repairs are completed. On Thursday, 3,000 trucks were allowed to proceed to the port, which represents about 48% of the normal flow of trucks to the port at this time of the year.

Rail service to the port, which had been suspended last Friday, has also been completely restored. Approximately 30% of the grain arriving at the port does so by rail.

Enough grain and soybean meal is arriving at the port to continue loading vessels at a normal pace. Currently, there are three vessels loading at the public berths, one carrying soybeans, one carrying corn, and one carrying soybean meal. As long as the region remains rain free, loading should proceed normally.

Resumption of shipments to the port is coming just in time as grain facilities in the interior of Parana are reporting that they are filled to capacity. Grain silos in the state had been filling quickly as the harvest pace accelerated and shipment to the port slowed. Shipments to the port have been slow for the last several weeks due to wet weather at the port that suspended loading operations. When the highway was closed last Friday, the last remaining silo spaced filled quickly. Some cooperatives in western Parana reported that they were forced to pile grain on the ground due to a lack of silo space.

Port officials are hoping for dry weather in order to allow for loading operations to return to normal. The biggest logistical challenge at the port occurs during periods of wet weather when loading operations must be suspended.