Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Catastrophic Rains Halt Freight Operations As Shipping Awaits A Break

Exports Affected by Monsoon Conditions
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – Our story of the 13th December pointed out that the appalling weather had forced several exporters to invoke force majeure with regard to their inability to fulfil contracts for the supply of coal to their overseas clients. Freight and shipping operations have been severely disrupted by the severe monsoon rains falling, particularly in the Queensland region.

QR National, having listed its stock just last month announced the closure of two of its main rail freight routes at Goonyella and Blackwater last week and this affected other operators namely Asciano’s contractor Pacific National, who had a train derail on Christmas Eve and consequent problems, particularly at Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay.

All the major mining groups have seen production cut dramatically and have warned they will not meet export targets. Shares in both the rail freight operators and the mining groups have been negatively affected by the ongoing floods. Stocks at Dalrymple Bay normally sit at about the 200,000 tonne mark whereas this week shipments have had to be suspended due to the lack of adequate supplies. This situation has left ships lying idle off the coast to await loading of cargo when conditions improve, and of course when some becomes available.

The RG Tanna coal terminal operated by Gladstone Ports is operating at around half capacity after the rail track damage and the inability to effect repairs due to flooding, no trains whatsoever are currently running on the Moura and Blackwater tracks according to a Gladstone spokesman. With the rains predicted to continue, possibly into February, the situation, and the sky, is expected to remain gloomy for some while with QR National stating they cannot even make a prediction as to how bad the situation is until the weather eases