Bunkering halt at Rio Grande threatens Brazilian soybean exports

Brazilian soybean exports could face delays after state-owned oil company Petrobras was heard to have cancelled its...

Brazilian soybean exports could face delays after state-owned oil company Petrobras was heard to have cancelled its bunkering operations at the southern port of Rio Grande on Friday.

“Unofficial sources say that Petrobras has suspended bunker deliveries owing to a big contaminated quantity of VLSFO found at their tank storages, and decided to suspend all bunker operations temporarily to test all stocks,” shipping agency Williams said.

“Vessels which had stem confirmed won’t be supplied and even barges are not to be refilled,” shipping agency Cargonave Group said in a separate statement.

That move could leave soybean-carrying vessels without bunker fuel at the height of its busy export window.

“This could be terrible [for soybean exports], especially now that Rio Grande do Sul’s crops are expected to arrive at high volumes,” a Brazilian broker told Agricensus.

Delays

The soybean crops in Rio Grande do Sul, whose harvest is typically later compared to the rest of the country, were sowed late this year with the harvest still at 54% on April 15, up 15 points on the week but 27 points behind on the year, data from Emater/RS-Ascar showed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the nationwide progress stood ahead at 85% completed on April 8, according to the latest data by consultancy Agrural.

Rio Grande do Sul’s soybeans have been driving the domestic market over the last days as “large volumes are arriving in the spot market with only about 40% of the crops sold beforehand,” a trader said.

The Rio Grande port exported 650,00 mt of soybeans in March, 44% of which originated from within the state.

Exports from the port are expected to hit their cyclical peak between April and July.

According to line up data from Williams, some 711,000 mt have already been exported from the port this month, with another 1.19 million mt scheduled to leave over the remainder of April.

Petrobras is expected to issue a statement to clarify the suspension later on Friday, market sources told Agricensus.

Agricensus reached out to Petrobras but had not received comment at time of press.

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