News / Americas

Fire Engulfs Up to 300,000 Tons of Sugar at Brazil Port

Four warehouses with sugar burn in flames at the port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, some 60 km of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct.18, 2013.
Four warehouses with sugar burn in flames at the port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, some 60 km of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct.18, 2013.
Reuters
A fire on Friday destroyed up to 300,000 tons of sugar and much of the Santos Port warehouses owned by Copersucar, the world's largest trader of the sweetener, the port authority of Santos said.
 
Copersucar says nearly a fifth of the world's sea-borne sugar trade flows through its trading desks.
 
ICE March raw sugar prices rose more than six percent to a one-year high on news of the fire, before paring gains. By 8:40 a.m. ET the contract was up three percent at 19.58 cents per lb.
 
“Three warehouses were destroyed by the fire and we are trying to control the fire now in a fourth,” said a representative for the fire department in Santos, adding that four people were hurt.
 
Copersucar has six warehouses with capacity to hold 50,000-100,000 tons each at the Santos port, the world's main source of raw sugar shipments. Copersucar officials said they had no additional information about the containment and damage of the blaze beyond what the fire department has reported.
 
Live television footage showed a three-story high mountain of sugar engulfed in flames inside a warehouse that had lost most of its siding and roof to the flames.
 
Some of the overhanging conveyor belts that transport sugar between the warehouses and eventually to waiting ships at the terminal in Santos appeared to have toppled over or were lying on the pavement alongside some of the warehouse.
 
Brazil is at the tail end of a record 585 million ton center-south cane harvest that is expected to produce 34 million tons of sugar. Roughly 15 percent of the crop remains to be crushed.
 
In June, Copersucar had inaugurated an expansion  project at Santos that doubled its export capacity to 10 million tons a year.
 
Copersucar represents 47 sugar mills in Brazil and recorded revenues of $4.1 billion in 2012. The company had hoped in June to expand its trading volume to nine million tons from 7.2 million tons in 2012.
 
Codesp, which manages the day-to-day operations at Santos, said the fire broke out shortly after 6:00 a.m. local time (0900 GMT), after which a ship berthed at the terminal was removed.
 
The fire appeared to have been preceded by an explosion, an event not uncommon with bulk commodities like grains or sugar. The dust and gasses emitted by such bulk commodities are extremely combustible.
 
When large stockpiles of sugar catch fire, it can be extremely difficult to extinguish the fire quickly. As the sugar burns it create a carbonized outer shell as the fire burns into the center of the mound that inhibits the penetration of water and chemicals that would otherwise snuff out the blaze.
 
Firefighters will also have the challenge of dealing with subterranean passages that connect some of Copersucar's warehouses and through which sugar is transported.
 
Fabrienne Pointier at data provider Platts said the loss of the large volume of sugar is not as bad as the damage the fire has done to Copersucar's infrastructure at Santos.
 
“The real significance is that it is going to slow down the logistics. It's going to be many months to rebuild those warehouses,” Pointier said.
 
Michael McDougal at sugar trader Newedge estimated it might take six months to get operations at the terminal back up and running.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Santos: Colombia Peace Talks Have Advanced Significantly

The government has been holding negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since the end of 2012
More

Brazilian Head of UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti Dies

Lieutenant General Jose Luiz Jaborandy Jr. died of a heart attack on board a plane from Miami to Brazil on Sunday, according to a UN statement
More

Dozens of Venezuelans Shot by Police Amid Crime Crackdown

Rights groups accuse security forces of carrying out summary executions, but some residents in neighborhoods overrun by gangs say government right to take more militarized approach
More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed
More

Canada, White House Dismiss Candidate's Suggestion for Border Wall

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says that northern wall on US-Canadian border is 'legitimate issue for us to look at'
More

Tropical Storm Erika Dissipates; 21 Dead

Storm flags over Cuba, could regain strength over Gulf of Mexico; death toll in Dominica, Haiti is 21
More