From Karl Plume
(Reuters) – Another grain export terminal near the Louisiana Gulf Coast that was closed for two weeks by Hurricane Ida resumed operations this week, even as heavy rains hit the area from Tropical Storm Nicholas on Tuesday.
Global grain trader Cargill Inc said it reopened its grain export terminal in Westwego, Louisiana and unloaded its first grain barge on Monday since Ida disembarked on Aug. 29, crippling shipments from the busiest U.S. grain export center.
Cargill is the latest major grain merchant to revive its export activities after Ida devastated the region's power grid and damaged some of the nearly dozen grain terminals along the Mississippi from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.
Heavy rains from Nicholas lashed through storm-lashed Louisiana again Tuesday after disembarking on the Texas Gulf Coast, putting the risk of flooding and further power outages. The storm was expected to sweep across Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida Pan by Thursday.
Power to Cargill's severely damaged terminal in Reserve, Louisiana was finally restored on Monday for the first time since Ida, but the company is still assessing the damage from that storm and developing "phased reopening plans," said Cargill spokeswoman April Nelson.
Cargill is monitoring the rains on Nicholas Tuesday but has confirmed no impact on the recovery efforts, Nelson said.
Rival exporters Louis Dreyfus Co and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co have been loading export shipments for several days while a facility is owned by Bunge (NYSE 🙂 Ltd remains closed according to companies and shipping sources.
CHS Inc and Zen-Noh Grain, which also operate large grain terminals near the Louisiana Gulf Coast, did not immediately respond to requests for comments on their recovery efforts.
US grain exports hit their lowest level in years last week as shippers struggled to get their facilities back on stream in the Gulf, where roughly 60% of US crop exports leave the country.
The U.S. corn harvest is starting, which means there will be more grain available for transportation in the coming weeks.
Nine grain ships were loaded for export to golf terminals and floating rigs this week, up from just three at the end of last week, a barge broker said.
Louisiana state officials said the rains on Nicholas made Ida difficult to recover, especially in flooded and unpowered communities and in areas along flood-swollen rivers.
"We have been through something in the past where we will get two storms at once during the height of the hurricane system," said Mike Strain, commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. "It complicates matters."
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