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Fire in Brazilian port burns 180,000 tons of sugar

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Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a warehouse storing sugar at the Brazilian port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, on October 18, 2013.

A massive fire has ravaged about 180,000 tons of raw sugar in Brazil’s largest port, pushing international prices to a one-year high.

The blaze, which started at around 06:00 a.m. local time (1000 GMT) on Friday, damaged all of Copersucar’s warehouses at the Santos port, putting the world’s biggest sugar trader’s 10 million tons of export capacity offline for at least six months.

Sugar prices in New York’s futures markets went up by six percent when the news of the fire flashed across the world.

“The fire affected some 180,000 tons of raw sugar,” said a statement issued by Copersucar.

Copersucar, which represents 47 sugar mills in Brazil and recorded revenue of $4.1 billion in 2012, inaugurated an expansion project in June at Santos. The project doubled the firm’s export capacity to 10 million tons annually.

“The causes of the incident are not yet known and are being investigated,” the statement added.

“A conservative estimate would be six months to get this in operational form (again),” said a US trader. “The jewel in their crown has been effectively destroyed.”

Santos port officials said firefighters struggled for six hours to bring the inferno under control.

The officials also said that the fire is the biggest in the history of the port of Santos, which is located some 80 kilometers (49 miles) from Sao Paulo.


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