Brazil's Copersucar to reopen raw sugar warehouse in January

SAO PAULO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Brazil's Copersucar expects a raw sugar warehouse at its fire-damaged terminal in Santos to resume shipping in January and additional export capacity to be available around May, the company said in a newspaper interview published on Wednesday.

The Oct. 18 fire had taken most of the 10-million-tonne-per-year Santos sugar terminal offline.

Chief Executive Officer Luis Roberto Pogetti told the Valor Economico daily that Copersucar, the world's largest sugar and ethanol trader, had managed to contract sufficient export capacity in Brazil from other traders to guarantee all shipments.

Pogetti said the 47-odd associate mills that hold most of Copersucar's equity would probably approve the 100 million real ($42 million) capital expansion in a meeting planned for Dec. 17. The funds will help shore up capital for the company as it rebuilds its terminal.

Global sugar prices spiked after news of the fire at the world's largest sugar terminal, which had just finished doubling its capacity in June, raised concerns over the loss of Brazil's ability to export.

But the fire left the terminal's shiploading and railway offloading equipment undamaged. The bagged, white sugar warehouse was also left largely intact, and one of five raw sugar warehouses was less damaged than the others.

Pogetti said he expected exports from this less-damaged warehouse, which can move 250,000 tonnes of raw sugar a month, to resume in January.

Then in May, the facility will go offline temporarily while it is linked up with two other raw sugar warehouses that are expected to come back on line then. This would return the terminal's capacity to 4 million tonnes a year, Pogetti said.

That is still less than half the total capacity before the fire but enough to allow Copersucar to meet all delivery commitments, Pogetti said. The company does not expect the terminal to return to full capacity until early 2015.

Copersucar exported 3.8 million tonnes of the current 2013/14 crop before the fire and expects to move an additional 3.2 million tonnes through March, Pogetti said. Of the raw sugar yet to be exported this season, 2.4 million tonnes will go through third-party terminals contracted since the fire.

For the season starting on April 1, Copersucar expects to export 6.5 million tonnes of sugar.

"It doesn't make sense for us to originate more (sugar) to export it from others' terminals," Pogetti said, adding Copersucar plans to move 4 million tonnes from its terminal and 2.5 million tonnes from other terminals next season.

The company already exported its first raw sugar shipment from the fire-damaged terminal last month. It had managed to salvage 56,000 tonnes from the fire and sold the product at a discount due to additional moisture.