UPDATE 1-Brazil's Copersucar to reopen raw sugar warehouse in January

Wed Dec 4, 2013 10:39am EST

(Adds company confirmation)

SAO PAULO Dec 4 (Reuters) - Brazil's Copersucar expects a raw sugar warehouse at its fire-damaged terminal in Santos to resume shipping in January and additional export capacity to be available around May, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Oct. 18 fire had taken most of the 10-million-tonne-per-year Santos sugar terminal offline. Copersucar, the world's largest sugar and ethanol trader, had managed to contract sufficient export capacity in Brazil from other traders to guarantee all shipments for the next year.

Global sugar prices spiked after news of the fire at the world's largest sugar terminal, which had just finished doubling its capacity in June, raised concerns over the loss of Brazil's ability to export.

But the fire left the terminal's ship loading and railway offloading equipment undamaged. The bagged, white sugar warehouse was also left largely intact, and one of five raw sugar warehouses was less damaged than the others.

Copersucar said it expects exports from this less-damaged warehouse, which can move 250,000 tonnes of raw sugar a month, to resume in January.

Then in May, the facility will be linked up with two other raw sugar warehouses that are expected to come back on line. This would return the terminal's capacity to 4 million tonnes a year, the company said.

That is still less than half the total capacity before the fire but enough to allow Copersucar to meet delivery commitments. The company does not expect the terminal to return to full capacity until early 2015.

Copersucar said it exported 3.8 million tonnes of the current 2013/14 crop before the fire and expects to move an additional 3.2 million tonnes through March. Of the raw sugar yet to be exported this season, 2.4 million tonnes will go through third-party terminals in Santos and Paranagua ports contracted since the fire.

The company already exported its first raw sugar shipment from the fire-damaged terminal last month. It had managed to salvage 56,000 tonnes from the fire and sold the product at a discount due to additional moisture.

Copersucar Chief Executive Luis Roberto Pogetti told the Valor Economico daily on Wednesday that the 47-odd associate mills that hold most of Copersucar's equity would probably approve the 100 million real ($42 million) capital expansion in a meeting planned for Dec. 17. The funds will help shore up capital for the company as it rebuilds its terminal.

For the season starting on April 1, Copersucar expects to export 6.5 million tonnes of sugar, he said.

"It doesn't make sense for us to originate more (sugar) to export it from others' terminals," Pogetti said, adding Copersucar plans to move 4 million tonnes from its terminal and 2.5 million tonnes from other terminals next season.

(Reporting by Reese Ewing and Fabiola Gomes; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Chris Reese)

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