* River shut to barge traffic as safety precaution -source
* Barge hit pylon in river in Sao Paulo state last week
* Power lines scheduled to be removed by April 3
By Peter Murphy
BRASILIA, March 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Tiete-Parana waterway has been shut down after a barge carrying grain swerved off course and hit an electricity pylon, the Navy and the state-managed waterway’s administration, Ahrana, told Reuters on Thursday.
Navy Captain Marcio Costa Lima told Reuters the waterway had been closed as a safety precaution, and that power lines were expected to be removed by April 3.
“As soon as the (engineering) company finishes its work, we will open the waterway again immediately,” Costa Lima said.
Nearby soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade turned higher on Thursday due in part to reports of the accident.
A logistics specialist at Brazilian soy producer association Aprsoja said however the incident would not have any significant impact on the current flow of soy to Brazil’s ports during the peak of harvest.
Commodities trader Archer Daniels Midland confirmed one of its barges collided with the electricity pylon and said there were no injuries. The accident happened late last week in a wide stretch of river near Birigui, a locality about 500 km (310 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo city.
Sao Paulo state’s transport secretariat said five barges carrying a total of 30,000 tonnes of soy were queuing up to get past the point of the accident, which dragged electricity cables into the water which were immediately shut off.
Five empty barges heading back the other way to reload were also halted. The waterway transports around 5 million tonnes of grain per year, according to a source at the state-run waterway’s administration not authorized to speak on the record.
Brazil is in the middle of harvesting what is expected to be a record soy crop, which could see it leapfrog the United States to claim the rank of top global soy producer. Most soy reaches ports via truck or rail. Brazil has large stretches of navigable waterways but it remains an under-used mode of transport.
Brazil’s ports are facing unprecedented congestion due to the bumper harvest with long queues of trucks and ships waiting to offload and receive cargo, driving up costs for exporters.