Low Water Levels on Major Argentine River Add to Logistic Headaches

Posted on Wed, 04/08/2020 - 11:56

Ag commodity exporters are being forced to lighten loads due to low water levels along Argentina’s Parana river, the country’s local ports chamber said today. This river is the country’s main thoroughfare for transporting goods from the country’s Pamaps grain belt to export hubs.

"Cargo ships are still loading, but instead of loading what they normally would at this time of year, about 34 feet deep, today they are loading at 31 feet," Guillermo Wade, manager of the CAPyM port operators chamber told Reuters. Wade details that equates to a cut of about 7,500 MT of cargo on a Panamax ship or the loss of 5,400 MT for a Handymax ship.

This comes at a time when unease about coronavirus is high, prompting some local governments to thwart government orders to allow the passage of ag goods via truck. And limited workers and added protective measures are slowing work at the country’s ports. This was evident in March export figures.  

Argentina’s National Institute of Water (INA) reports that the Parana River near Rosario currently stands at about 28% of its normal level, and INA expects water levels to drop even further through April 21. This would necessitate further lightening of cargo loads.  

April is the peak season for harvest of corn and soybeans in Argentina. The country is typically the world’s largest exporter of soymeal and soyoil.