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Roundup: Ida’s impact on the supply chain; drivers needed

How Hurricane Ida is affecting the logistics industry

(Shutterstock image)

Monday’s news on Hurricane Ida and its impact on various sectors of the freight industry from reports by the FreightWaves reporters and market experts, as well as pertinent social media posts. This file will be updated throughout the day as more news comes in, so please check back.

7 p.m. ET: Trucks with Room to Spare seeks truckers to haul hurricane supplies

The founder of a nonprofit humanitarian relief organization, Trucks with Room to Spare, is seeking truck drivers to volunteer to pick up and deliver critical medical supplies, food and other essentials to areas hardest-hit by Hurricane Ida. 

Shelli Conaway-Waugh of Lexington, Kentucky, a 29-year trucking veteran, told FreightWaves on Monday that her group, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is currently evaluating requests from relief groups and plans to establish donation dropoff sites later this week. 

She has organized a list of rules and regulations for volunteers who want to collect disaster relief supplies to ensure her group can accept the shipments. 

Conaway-Waugh said the organization received its first request on Monday to pick up 20 boxes of critical supplies near Rockford, Illinois, and deliver them to a volunteer fire department in York, Alabama. She said the boxes weigh about 15 pounds apiece. To find out more, contact her at 866-303-0388 or email her here

For those wanting to collect relief supplies or donate funds to help pay volunteers’ fuel expenses, check out the Trucks with Room to Spare website. 

Her group works with several relief organizations, including CN Supply, a branch of the Cajun Navy, a water search-and-rescue group that rescued thousands during Hurricane Katrina.

“I can’t emphasize enough how much we need volunteer drivers during times like these,” Conaway-Waugh said. — Clarissa Hawes

5:10 p.m. ET: Restrained oil market on the day after landfall

After a surge when markets opened Sunday evening in the wake of Hurricane Ida, oil prices Monday ultimately showed a timid reaction in the face of such a devastating storm.

Part of the reason is uncertainty: just how much damage did any of Louisiana’s refineries suffer from Ida? And when will the ones that are closed return to operations? 

The market impact was clearly seen far more in refined products than crude. Although almost all oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was offline as Ida came through, unless there is unexpected damage, most of that production should be back by the end of the week, based on historical precedents. 

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement reported Monday that 1.72 million barrels/day of production in the Gulf was offline, against capacity of about 1.8 million b/d.

But to show how traders are more concerned with lost output from refineries rather than from oil wells, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude inched up just 0.8% on the CME commodity exchange, an increase of 54 cents/barrel for a settlement of $69.21/b.

Meanwhile, refinery concerns lifted the price of ultra low sulfur diesel by 3.11 cents/gallon to a settlement of $2.10403/g. It’s the highest settlement in a  month; the market settled at more than $2.19/g on July 30. The gain in ULSD Monday was 1.47%. 

Meanwhile, RBOB gasoline climbed 1.69%, or 3.85 cents/g, to settle at $2.3127/g. That was the highest settlement for RBOB also since July 30.

Products rose more than crude as traders looked at the long list of key Louisiana refineries that were closed as a precaution against the storm, amid questions of whether power outages will slow them from restarting. 

S&P Global Platts said its Analytics division estimates that there was a total of 2.2 million b/d of refining capacity that was not operating Monday because of the storm. But those closures all took place in anticipation of Ida; it is too early to say yet when they will return to normal operations. 

That 2.2 million b/d figure includes two refineries that are among the biggest in the country: Marathon Garyville and ExxonMobil Baton Rouge. Both have a capacity of more than 500,000 b/d. 

Platts also said it had looked at the outages map provided by electric utility Entergy and that two refineries in Norco, Louisiana, were in a zone on the map where power was still on. Those refineries are both 200,000 b/d-plus refineries, one operated by Shell and the other by Valero.

But there was positive news too. Citgo said it had halted operations at its Lake Charles refinery, but that often hurricane-prone section of Louisiana wasn’t affected, and the plant returned to normal operations. — John Kingston

4:27 p.m. ET: Impact on three key ports for grain exports (SONAR report)

{LEFT} U.S. Customs’ import shipments to the Port of New Orleans. {RIGHT} Outbound Ocean TEU Volume Index for the Port of New Orleans, with confirmed daily bookings over the next seven days [white]. 

Hurricane Ida’s effects will not be limited to surface-side transportation, as its landfall interrupts operations at three significant port complexes in the Gulf – the port of South Louisiana, Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans. These three port systems combine to control between 55%-70% of all U.S. grain exports. The Port of New Orleans made significant headway on shipment clearance in the days prior to the storm making landfall, clearing all time-high daily volumes of containerized and non-containerized imports. 

Primarily an export port, the Port of New Orleans outbound TEU volumes plummeted with the onset of the storm, with confirmed bookings for the next seven days showing a subtle recovery. That recovery however is in jeopardy, as the port closed all operations on Monday. While no significant damage has been reported at the port, its return to full operations is constrained by the restoration of power and return of its dock workers, both of which may take a number of days. 

4 p.m. ET: Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern assessing conditions

The flood gates at New Orleans remain closed for now, and this could affect when lines will be able to reopen, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern said in Monday updates.

Because the flood gates are closed, there is no interchange with the eastern rail carriers, UP (NYSE: UNP) said. The railroad is reviewing reroute options.

To assess the impact of Hurricane Ida on UP’s network, engineering crews have begun track inspections. UP has already staged ballast teams to help with potential washouts and is working with local power companies to restore service, according to a Monday service announcement.

Norfolk Southern’s (NYSE: NSC) terminals in New Orleans, including its intermodal facility, will remain closed on Tuesday, and customers with shipments destined to or through the area should expect delays up to 48 to 72 hours, NS said in a revised service advisory on Monday. “The facility will remain closed until further notice and its reopening will be announced on a future service alert,” NS said.

Like UP, NS is also working with interline partners to detour traffic through alternative gateways. NS also said it took precautionary actions to reposition rail equipment away from low-lying areas and to protect infrastructure. — Joanna Marsh

3:50 p.m. ET: Carrier update of relief efforts

Donnie Gilbert, director of customer solutions at FreightWaves, and Lead Economist Anthony Smith take a look at relief efforts in various markets in response to Hurricane Ida in the Carrier Update presented by PowerFleet.

3:35 p.m. ET: ‘New Orleans better prepared this time’

In his appearance Monday on “WHAT THE TRUCK?!?,” FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller discussed the trucking impact of Ida.

“I suspect this will not be a Katrina-level event just in terms of the kind of relief effort that is required,” Fuller said, “simply because New Orleans is much better prepared this time around than last time.”

Click here to listen to the full interview.

3:04 p.m. ET: ‘Tender rejections are rising’

Market reaction from Jason Zwirkoski, chief revenue officer at Arrive Logistics, an Austin, Texas-based freight brokerage:

“Organizations supporting Ida relief efforts have been busy offering power-only opportunities and searching for dedicated drivers who can work for weeks or possibly months. It’s still very early — as we progress through the week, we will better measure the storm’s impact.

“Saturday afternoon we saw a significant uptick in opportunities related to Ida relief efforts and we expect that this will continue throughout the week. We’ve also seen more secondary and tertiary freight being tendered to us — freight we haven’t seen as much of in the past 30 days — which is a clear sign that tender rejections are rising, especially in the Southeast.” — J.P. Hampstead

2:45 p.m. ET: Watch Nick Austin’s weather update

Flooding and debris keeping roads blocked in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Truckers will hit Ida’s heavy rain in the Tennessee and Ohio valleys. — FreightWaves meteorologist Nick Austin

2:30 p.m. ET: Ida disrupts intermodal networks (SONAR report)

Intermodal service issues have been rampant in recent weeks with congestion near ports and in major terminals. Intermodal service has been constrained by a shortage of drayage capacity, a shortage of domestic containers and chassis and by congestion at major intermodal terminals. 

Hurricane Ida is expected to exacerbate the congestion. All of the U.S. Class I railroads have issued public service alerts that include reroutings, gate closures and a suspension in bringing equipment into the affected area. One example: Union Pacific suspended operations at its Avondale, Louisiana, intermodal terminal beginning on Friday, Aug. 27. In addition, Kansas City Southern suspended mainline operations and interchanges until further notice from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and from New Orleans to Gulfport/Hattiesburg.  

With those operational issues in mind, we expect a sharp drop-off this week in intermodal volume, rising intermodal tender rejection rates and continued increases in intermodal spot rates (despite the fact that intermodal spot rates in many lanes are already at high levels that are not competitive with truckload). Often, hurricanes damage Class I railroads’ tracks and other infrastructure, which is highly disruptive until repairs are performed. 

Intermodal volume with “New Orleans inbound” shown on the waybill dropped from a high of 90/day to ~50/containers/day. Also, it should be noted that the intermodal volume shown below is based on when containers are in-gated at terminals. Therefore, the actual volume moving inbound is likely lower than what is shown below in the SONAR chart. — Mike Baudendistel

To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

1:42 p.m. ET: Port of Mobile update

Terminal gates at the Port of Mobile, in Alabama, are closed Monday with operations expected to resume Tuesday. Maersk Line reported no impact to its vessels or cargo. — Eric Kulisch

1:25 p.m. ET: FEMA provides a brief update

1:05 p.m. ET: Widespread road closures in southeastern Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development continues to report widespread road closures across southeastern Louisiana due to Ida’s flooding and debris. This includes portions of Interstate 10, as well as many state and local roads. Closures on major U.S. highways are impacting southern Mississippi and Alabama. — Nick Austin

11:54 a.m. ET: Southeastern Freight Lines update

Southeastern Freight Lines announced that the following service centers are embargoed: New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, all in Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Orange, Texas. Check SEFL’s weather map for latest operational updates.

11:45 a.m. ET: Port of New Orleans closed

Port of New Orleans crews are assessing Hurricane Ida impacts. Initial reports indicate no major damage to the facilities. The port is coordinating with navigation partners as well as local and state officials in order to resume operation safely and as quickly as possible.

For now, the Port Administration Building and LIT Community Connection Office  the New Orleans Terminal and Ports America for containerized operations and the Empire, Coastal Cargo, Gulf Stream Marine and Ports America for breakbulk operations are all closed on Monday.

10:45 a.m. ET via Twitter

10:22 a.m. ET: Kansas City Southern suspends operations, interchanges

KCS (NYSE: KSU) suspended mainline operations and interchanges from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as Gulfport/Hattiesburg, Mississippi, because of excessive rain and wind caused by Hurricane Ida. Once KCS reopens its lines in these areas, it will send out another update.

The railroad said it is continuing to monitor the storm’s projected path and potential impact on the rest of KCS’ network. “Until the water has receded sufficiently, maintenance cannot yet begin. Crews are on location and will begin making the necessary assessments and repairs once the all clear has been received,” KCS said.

Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern said Sunday that its New Orleans intermodal facility would be closed Monday. The facility is expected to resume normal operations on Tuesday, and NS will provide updates as conditions change. “Customers with shipments arriving or departing from the New Orleans facility should expect delays of at least 24 hours”, NS (NYSE: NSC) said. — Joanna Marsh

9:30 a.m. ET: Soybean shippers expect export impact

Soybean shippers are bracing for potential export impacts stemming from Hurricane Ida. The lower Mississippi River is “by far the largest export region” for soybeans and corn, representing 61% of U.S. soybean exports and 58% of U.S. corn exports, according to Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek.  As a result, “any lengthy disruption to export activity in this key region warrants our attention and concern,” he said Sunday.

According to Steenhoek, 464,138 metric tons (18.3 million bushels) of corn, 141,859 metric tons (5.2 million bushels) of soybeans, and 71,696 metric tons (2.6 million bushels) of wheat were exported from the terminals along the lower Mississippi River for the week ending Aug. 19. Also during that timeframe, 487 barges of grain were unloaded. — Joanna Marsh

8:06 a.m. ET: Spot rates on Atlanta-New Orleans lane

Spot rates on the Atlanta-New Olreans lane will surge as hurricane relief efforts tighten capacity in Atlanta, and saturate the New Orleans market. 

  • Dry van rejection rates increased to 25.14% on the ATL-MSY lane ahead of Hurricane Ida, but inbound tender rejection rates have jumped to 39.72% for the New Orleans market.
  • Dry van outbound tender rejection rates jumped to 25.35% in New Orleans this past weekend as outbound freight volumes increased to 54.69 index points. 
  • New Orleans shippers extended tender lead times to 3.21 days as spot rates climbed in the market the last few days as capacity tightened before the impact of Hurricane Ida. – Zach Strickland

8 a.m. ET: Expect capacity to tighten across the nation

The damage from a Category 4 hurricane could bring widespread destruction from winds, flooding and tornadoes, which will tighten capacity all across the nation from relief efforts on both the state and federal levels. Companies large and small will be hauling water, ice, food, medical supplies, generators, wood, roofing materials, MREs, cots, etc. into the areas in and around the New Orleans market. Thousands of loads will be picked up out of the FEMA warehouses in the Dallas and Atlanta markets, and supplies from military bases across the South and East Coast. — Zach Strickland


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