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Over 700 barges stuck in Mississippi River from bridge crack

(Bloomberg) – A crack in a bridge over the Mississippi River has blocked more than 700 barges, cutting off the main route for U.S. agricultural exports when the critical waterway is busiest. Transport inspects a large crack in a highway bridge spanning the river, according to the US Coast Guard. A queue has expanded to 47 ships and 771 barges, of which 430 are heading north and the rest are heading south, Petty Officer Petty Officer Carlos Galarza of 8th District said on Thursday afternoon. of the Coast Guard. , with covered barges filled with grains and soybeans floating at terminals along the Gulf of Mexico, while crude oil as well as imported steel also pass through sections of the waterway. Any prolonged outage would disrupt shipments outside the Gulf. Corn futures fell by the most licensed under CME group rules in part on speculation that exports would decline. “The river is the jugular of the Midwestern export market for corn and beans,” said Colin Hulse, senior risk management consultant at StoneX in Kansas City. “The duration of the blockage is important. If they can’t move quickly, that’s a big deal. If it slows down or restricts movement for a longer period of time, that can also be a big problem. The shutdown along the Mississippi River is the latest calamity to rock the commodities world in recent weeks. In March, the Suez Canal was blocked by a giant container ship that stuck sideways in the vital waterway for nearly a week, crippling global shipping. And late last week, a cyberattack destroyed the largest fuel pipeline in the United States for five days, causing widespread gasoline shortages from Florida to Virginia. A long halt on the Mississippi River could still shake up the crop markets, where soybean and corn futures have hit. multi-year summits in an unfavorable climate in Latin America and a buying frenzy in China. Corn futures fell from the 40 cent, or 5.6%, exchange limit on Thursday to $ 6.7475 a bushel in Chicago. To get around the problem, traders could in theory also send supplies on. trains and diverted to ports along the US Pacific Northwest. Few grain and soybean buyers were bidding for barges north of the closed river amid uncertainty of resuming vessel traffic; vehicle and waterway traffic interrupting the cracks is in the beam of Interstate 40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge, which was found during a routine inspection, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “The timetable is still undetermined” for the reopening of the waterway, department spokeswoman Nichole Lawrence said by email Thursday morning. order to resume river traffic under the bridge, according to Josh Spoores, analyst at CRU Group. It can cause bottlenecks, but most consumers who are already used to waiting months for supplies to ship are probably fine with some additional delays, he said. . The majority of these exports were bulk grains and bulk grain products, such as corn, soybeans, animal feed and rice. The region also supports a significant amount of edible oil exports, such as soybean and corn oils, and even attracted 13% of US water-based frozen poultry exports in 2017. ‘hypothesis that, based on past experience, the river might be partially open to restrictions “I think it’s not a big problem for river traffic as it will be a short-term disruption,” said Stephen Nicholson, Senior Grains and Oilseeds Analyst at Rabobank. “The good news is that most fertilizers have already moved up the river and soybean exports are at an all-time low. However, corn exports continue at a strong pace, so we might see a slight delay in corn barges reaching New Orleans. It can be difficult for exporters to shift a lot of volume to rail because the ability to unload trains outside of the New Orleans area is limited, according to Curt Strubhar, vice president and risk management consultant at Advance Trading Inc. “There aren’t a lot of rail unloaders south of the problem,” he said, adding that the port elevators in New Orleans aren’t equipped to handle a significantly higher share. railway unloadings either. Of the agricultural supplies that floated on barges north of Memphis, about 84 percent were corn and about 13 percent soybeans, according to Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, citing USDA data. Overall corn and soybean shipments during the week ended May 8 were 18% higher than a year ago.The Port of St. Louis of the Growmark agricultural cooperative, which ships corn and soybeans to the south of New Orleans for export primarily to China and receives fertilizer, will likely shut down on Friday, according to Matt Lurkins, executive director of the company’s grain division. “Freight was already tight,” Lurkins said in a telephone interview. “Then this kind of sent us over the edge.” If the break drags on, he says, Growmark could send more grain to processors rather than loading it onto barges for export. Small volumes of crude and partially refined oil are shipped by barge across the river as well. In February, 2.85 million barrels were moved from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast via barges and tankers, according to government data. Steel imported on barges will be delayed as long as traffic is interrupted. About 25% of imported steel crosses at least one section of the Mississippi River, according to Wood analyst Mackenzie Cicero Machado, although he said foreign steel newly arrived to ports in New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama, could be hijacked on rail cars or trucks. The river is also a major artery for steel shipments to the United States, and delays could become a problem for southern automakers who depend on high-strength steels produced in the Midwest, he said. will last? Machado said. “The problem isn’t really in the river, it’s in a bridge over the river – so maybe they’ll find a way to deal with the traffic there.” (Added Coast Guard update to second paragraph.) For more articles like please visit us at bloomberg.com Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted source of business news. © 2021 Bloomberg LP


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