Cyclone knocks Paranagua grain loading offline  

1 Jul 2020 | Reese Ewing

A cyclone that passed over southern Brazil’s on Tuesday took grain loaders at Paranagua Port offline for a few days and caused power outages, potentially derailing expectations that the weak currency and Chinese demand would push exports of soybeans and corn higher in the third quarter.

The grain export corridor at Paranagua, Brazil’s second main soybean and corn port after Santos, remained down as of Wednesday afternoon as port authorities assessed the extent of the damages.

The storm registered winds of more than 90 km/hr that took the main commercial quay of the grain terminal offline.

The southern ports of Imbituba, Rio Grande, Sao Francisco reported minor damage from the storm.

Santos Port reported none so far but strong winds from the storm were moving over the port Wednesday afternoon.

Paranagua’s Pasa 204 shiploader was damaged by the storm and technicians are assessing the outlook on the system that carries bulk commodities like soybeans and corn to ship holds.

Williams shipping agents said the loader was dragged off its rails and was immobile.

The grainloader off berth 214 in the main export corridor was also damaged but should only take about three days to repair, according to the Port Authority.

The loader was also pulled off its rails and is immobile at present. The berth has a second loader that is fully operational.

Berth 212 in the main export corridor has two shiploaders operating but one of them is unable to move on its rails to adjust to ship holds. Shipping agents Williams said several restrictions to loading should be announced by authorities in the coming days.

Berth 213 in the export corridor has two fully operational loaders.

The Paranagua port operators said earlier this week that they expected soybean exports to reach 4.97 million mt in the coming three months, up 31% from the same period last year.

This projection may need to be revisited and depending on the extent of the damage, global soybean and corn markets could firm on the temporary crimping of the capacity at Paranagua.

Andre Maragliano who heads Cargill’s export terminal at the port said strong Chinese demand and the weak real against the dollar were propelling sales abroad.

“The exchange rate is making operations attractive and the price of soy is good enough for the producer to sell, all lights are green. We expect a positive quarter, in line with the first two quarters,” Maragliano said.

The real is trading at 5.33 to the US dollar is about 32% weaker than at the start of 2020 when it traded at 4.02 to the greenback.