April 9, 2015

Fire at Port of Santos in Southeastern Brazil slows Grain Exports

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

A persistent fire in a fuel storage depot at the Port of Santos in southeastern Brazil has resulted in a slowdown of grain loading at the port. The fire broke out last Thursday at a fuel storage unit of Ultracargo and it was thought to have been put out by the weekend, but it reignited on Monday.

As a result, local police blocked most of the truck traffic to the right side of the port starting on Monday in order to avoid congestion while 140 firefighters and their equipment continued to battle the blaze. The situation is reevaluated every 12 hours and authorities expect the truck deliveries to return to normal on Friday if not sooner. On Wednesday morning, police escorted a convoy of trucks loaded with soybeans to grain terminals where supplies are running low and local reports indicate that more trucks will be allowed in on Wednesday night.

The Port of Santos is divided into two parts, the right side and the left side. The grain terminals on the right side of the Port of Santos are the ones that have been impacted by the fire. Some of the terminals have not received any grain deliveries since Monday while others have received only 20% of their normal deliveries. The terminals that have received partial shipments are the ones serviced by a railroad, but train speeds have been reduced since the rail line passes only a few dozen meters from where the fire is burning. Other grain terminals on the right side of the port are serviced only by trucks and they are the ones that have not received any deliveries since Monday.

Grain loading activity at the terminals on the right side of the port have slowed down due to a lack of supplies. After the truck traffic is allowed into the right side of the port, it will take several days for the grain loading to resume its normal pace on the right side of the port. Grain terminals on the left side of the port have not been impacted by the fire.

One transportation company indicated that they have a thousand loaded trucks parked alongside the highway leading to the port and it is impacting their loading activities in the interior as well. The Port of Santos is the leading grain export facility in the country and Brazil is expected to export a record amount of soybeans in 2015.