Confusion reigns as ship to load Canadian canola

(Resource News International) — A ship that has been nominated to load Canadian canola at Vancouver has been the fuel for much speculation in ICE Futures Canada’s canola futures market over the past few days, especially with ideas that the destination of the 60,000-tonne capacity vessel may be China.

China last month implemented a ban on all canola being imported from the various regions of the world where the plant disease blackleg is found.

Canada was relying on Chinese importers to purchase at least two million to 2.2 million tonnes of Canadian canola during the 2009-10 crop year.

“Individuals are looking at a vessel nominated by Viterra that will arrive at the Port of Vancouver on or around Dec. 17 to 18 for 60,000 tonnes of Canadian canola,” an export source confirmed, not wanting to be identified. 

The source said the destination of the vessel reads as “provisional” at this time.

“The speculation is that the ship is destined for China,” the source said, adding that nothing has been confirmed. “If the vessel is going to China, it is likely going to one of the isolated ports the Chinese government will allow the canola to enter.”

However, the exporter said this is only provided that the designated Chinese crusher, who is importing the canola, has obtained the necessary permit.

“So there are a few matters that need to fall into place before the vessel will be allowed to go to that Chinese port, if indeed that is where it is destined,” the source said.

The export source noted that in a conference call to the Canadian canola industry on Dec. 1, the import permits still had not been issued.


“There are a lot of individuals who are speculating that the canola is going to China, but Viterra may also have an option to let that cargo go somewhere else, likely Pakistan or a similar location, if the Chinese canola crusher does not get the import permits in time,” the source said. “I would not be putting a lot of credit into the theory that Canada is again shipping canola to China.”

The export source felt that as long as all the parties involved in shipping Canadian canola to China abide by the rules laid out by the Chinese government, it may be possible to ship the commodity.

There was also little information relayed to Canada’s export community from the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Beijing and Shanghai.

Harper, in a speech to a business forum in Shanghai Friday, was pleased with China`s recent decision to lift restrictions on Canadian pork, but felt the restrictions on canola imports were protectionist.

The Chinese government issued a directive respecting quarantine measures for Canadian canola that took effect Nov. 15. The measures address China’s concern with the possible importation of Leptosphaeria maculans (blackleg), a plant disease common in canola/rapeseed production.

The measures are highly restrictive. The Canola Council of Canada estimates they will restrict 70 per cent of Canada’s canola seed (for processing) export sales to China.

Canada over the past 10 years has shipped on average one million tonnes of canola to China without any problems regarding blackleg, a Canola Council official said previously. The official added that during the 2008-09 crop year, 2.8 million tonnes of Canadian canola were exported to China without any incident.

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