Jan de Nul photo.

Reuters reported Sept. 10 that the Argentine government has agreed to a contract with Belgian-based dredging firm Jan de Nul to dredge the silted-over Parana River, a major grain artery. The Parana is at its lowest level in 77 years, due to a drought in Brazil where it originates.

Argentina is a top global exporter of soybeans and the world’s No. 2 corn exporter, as well as an important wheat exporter. The Parana River carries 80% of Argentina’s ag exports. It’s an efficient route, because ocean-going vessels can transit its length to the port of Rosario, eliminating the need for barge transfers.

Jan de Nul has managed the river for decades for the Argentine government, but earlier this year the government handed over its management to the National Ports Administration, which plans a new dredging tender, according to Reuters.

The chamber that represents grain exporters and processors in Argentina said it was crucial for the government to maintain the channel but added that it was worried about potential fee increases.

David Murray can be reached at journal@hpj.com.

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