Oil Slick Could Impact Grain Shipments

By Rudy Ruitenberg and Luzi Ann Javier (Bloomberg)

Wheat and corn fell last week in Chicago on speculation that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will hamper U.S. grain exports and hurt domestic prices.

Wheat for July delivery dropped 0.8 percent to $4.9775 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at 2:14 p.m. Paris time. Corn for delivery in the same month declined 0.7 percent to $3.69 a bushel.

More than half of the grain inspected for export from the U.S. is shipped from the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the Port of New Orleans. The oil slick from the spill at a BP Plc well stayed away from the main deepwater entrance to the river through May 6.

“The market is concerned that exports from the Gulf will stop entirely,” economist Dennis Gartman said in his daily newsletter. “The problems in the Gulf because of the oil slick have shuttered nearly all grain movements in New Orleans.”

Last year the U.S. shipped 54.469 million metric tons of corn, soybeans, and wheat through export terminals located at the mouth of the Mississippi, representing more than 56% of the total grain inspected for shipment in 2009, according to data from the USDA.

“Operators are expressing their concern about logistical difficulties for export if the oil slick spreads in the Gulf of Mexico,” Paris-based farm adviser Agritel said.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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