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January 29, 2016

Brazil's Tiete-Parana Waterway Reopens for Barges after Two Years

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

After being closed for two years due to low water levels, the Tiete-Parana waterway in southeastern Brazil is set to reopen to barge traffic. The waterway has a total extension of 2,400 kilometers and is important export route for grain produced in Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, and Minas Gerais.

The waterway was formed by a series of hydroelectric dams constructed on the Tiete and Parana rivers. The waterway was closed to barge traffic in 2014 due to low water levels resulting from a preference given to electrical generation instead of barge traffic. Officials have indicated that the region will require additional rainfall through April in order for the waterway to remain open during all of 2016. April is generally considered the end of the summer rainy season in southeastern Brazil, so local officials are hoping for good rains over the next three months. From May until September, the region usually receives very little rainfall.

This waterway and its barging operation is unusual in that the water is actually flowing away from Brazil's Atlantic Coast. Almost all the rain that falls in southern Brazil flows westward into the Parana River which then flows south and reaches the Atlantic Ocean at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Therefore, the barges loaded with soybeans actually are pushed upstream to a point in northeastern Sao Paulo state where the barges are unloaded and then the soybeans move by truck for the rest of the way to the Port of Santos.