US grain terminals damaged in storm: Exports could be backed up

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ayvengo
© GettyImages/ayvengo

Related tags Cargill Adm CHS Bunge

Hurricane Ida has disrupted grain and soybean shipments from the Gulf Coast, after export terminals were either shut or damaged.

Two of Cargill’s grain terminals in Louisiana have been directly impacted by the storm.

“Our focus right now is on employee safety, especially as the area continues to face power outages and flooding dangers,”​ Cargill spokesperson, Daniel Sullivan, told this publication yesterday.

Cargill facilities in the path of the storm began activating emergency operational plans over the weekend, he said.

“Within our agriculture supply chain, our Reserve, LA and Westwego, LA facility have sustained damage.

“This area in SE Louisiana is still facing significant personal safety concerns and power outages, so we are just able to start assessing the storm’s impact on our operations and the river system. We don’t currently have a time frame for resuming operations. With power not yet restored to the area, communications with teams on the ground has been limited.”

The disruptions to oilseed and grain exports comes at a time when global supplies are tight and demand is strong from China, noted Reuters.

“Farmers in the Midwest will soon begin reaping corn and soybean crops, and a hefty percentage of it flows down the Mississippi River, where it’s then shipped around the world via the Gulf of Mexico. The US is the world’s biggest corn supplier. If grain elevators and port terminals are still dealing with outages and damage, that could back up exports,”​ according to Bloomberg.

Diverting vessels 

Another leading grains trader, CHS Inc, said its grain export terminal, Myrtle Grove, may lack power for weeks after the storm.

The CHS Myrtle Grove terminal handles wheat, soybeans, corn, rice, DDGS and specialty grains for export to customers in Asia Pacific and Latin American countries. Located 25 miles south of New Orleans, it is the first terminal on the Mississippi River.

CHS closed the facility well in advance of Hurricane Ida’s landfall, John Griffith, executive vice president, CHS Global Grain & Processing, told us.

“At this time, it is still not possible for CHS to safely access the Myrtle Grove terminal, as roads to the facility are still closed due to flooding.

“Electrical power is down throughout the region, including the transmission line over the Mississippi River, which serves the Myrtle Grove facility. Best estimates as to when power will be restored at the terminal are in the two to four week range.

“CHS trading and transportation teams are working with transportation partners and customers to divert vessels scheduled for loading at Myrtle Grove through the next month,”​ he added. 

Restoring operations 

ADM has four grain elevators and port operations in New Orleans, all of which shut down over the weekend in preparation for Hurricane Ida, ADM spokesperson, Jackie Anderson, confirmed to FeedNavigator on Wednesday [September 1].

“Our top priority continues to be making contact with our employees to ensure everyone is safe. We are sending volunteers and supplies to support our teams on the ground, and we are working hard to restore operations as quickly as possible.

“We are in the process of accessing damage to our facilities. So far, we are not finding significant structural damage, but power remains out in the area. We will have an estimate for reopening once we can determine the timeline for full power restoration or temporary generator service.”

ADM has a vast transportation network and the company is making alternate shipping arrangements as necessary to meet customers’ needs, she added.

A Bunge spokesperson said there was no significant structural damage to its facilities in the area, but, regardless, those sites are not operating as there is no power.

We have not received an estimate from the utility [operators] on when power might be restored.”

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