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Oil product deliveries in Argentina hampered by low water level in major river

Buenos Aires — A decline in the water level of the Parana River to a 10-year low is slowing deliveries of oil products and biofuels in central and northern Argentina, an industry source said Wednesday.

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The situation is expected to last at least another month, the source added.

The Parana is running around 0.5 meters below average levels for this time of year in Rosario, a key agriculture hub in the heartland province of Santa Fe, according to a report Tuesday by the Rosario Board of Trade.

This is forcing transporters to move less cargo, in particular of grains and derivatives, said Guillermo Wade, head of Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities in Rosario, Santa Fe, in a telephone interview Wednesday.

While oil products are generally transported on smaller boats, the low water level is nonetheless forcing them to reduce loads on the major transport route, he said. "They are transporting less than they normally would," he added.

The water level in the Parana River is typically lower between July and October, but has been lower than usual this year because of a drought in southern Brazil, which feeds the river.

Wade said rain was forecast for southern Brazil, but even if it was sufficient, the water would first be used to fill hydropower dams on the river. Once the dams were filled, it would likely take another 25 days for the river's water level to rise at Rosario, he said.

The reduction in cargo volumes was pushing up logistics costs, the Rosario Board of Trade said.

Most of the country's biodiesel is shipped from Rosario for local and international delivery, the majority of which goes to Europe. Oil products are also moved along the river from refineries to service stations and other consumers in the center and north of the province.

--Charles Newbery,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,