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July 2013

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A month for fires :


We now know that there was a vessel unloading at the time of the fire in Jeddah so suspicion is falling on a faulty bearing somewhere on the intake system or perhaps a belt miss-tracking and rubbing. Either way, the fire was a very major incident that resulted in the loss of about 100 000 tons of raws and the complete collapse of both halves of the storage shed :


There are at least two youtube videos. The first one shows the fire from a distance :

but the second shows the damping down and the total absence of any steelwork

What we understand is that there was no fire detection system in the conveyor system from the port even though there was a fire along it in 2004 or so.


The world price remained in the doldrums last month, closing at about 16.7 US¢/lb. Where do we go from here? The ethanol price must be depressed by the cheap ‘fracking’ gas in the USA and, when all is said and done, the Brazil crop should be a good one with the plough-out programme finally delivering results even though the rains have continued in the Centre South long after they should have done [ask those who went to the ISSCT Congress : São Paulo was wet and miserable].


Although there are two independent groups wanting to do so, the CEO of Greencore [which used to run Irish Sugar before closing its factories at the time of the EU regime change] has said that he thinks there will never be an industry in Ireland again ‘because it doesn’t make economic sense’. Unfortunately, the man is the brother of Eire’s Minister for Agriculture who has been publically supporting the efforts to re-establish an industry in the country. Watch this space ….


Aliko Dangote, the eponymous order of the Lagos sugar refinery, is being quoted as saying he will establish a 150 000 t/a [we assume sugar and not cane] factory in Nigeria’s far north eastern Jigawa State. The local river there, the Hedajia, never reaches the sea, it flows eastwards and feeds Lake Chad but the land is very swampy near the river and dry away from it, this is the Sahel after all.


Last September we told you about a Swedish company called Agro EcoEnergy Tanzania taking over the Bagamoyo project. Apparently it is still in play although has not started work in earnest. It is saying that it will spend US$500 million on a sugar / ethanol / export power facility and that it still envisages up to 150 000 t/a of crystal.


Tongaat Hulett has released data which shows that the two factories produced close to 450 000 tons of sugar between them for the 2012 crop. However, with the threat of the estates being taken away from it, who knows what will happen in the future to TH in the country? No wonder the announcement was heavily political.


There was a substantial fire at the Okeelanta power station right at the end of May, start of June. It seems that the fire was the result of an oil leak on one of the turbines. Okeelanta was one of the original export stations [it was built nearly 20 years ago] and it has two turbines, a 75 MW unit and a 60 MW unit so this was not an ordinary sugar factory fire.


The government has released preliminary figures for the recently finished Thai crop. It says that over 100 million tons of cane were crushed and 10 million tons of sugar was produced. It is also forecasting higher production next crop with the sucrose content expected to be marginally higher.


MSF, now the group which operates – among others – the original Maryborough factory, has released its estimate for the crop which is about to start at that factory. Not a happy story : 560 000 tons of cane are expected which is more than 15% down on the last two crops. The blame is firmly placed on a very dry start to last year’s growing season followed by the two floods early this year.

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