Ceres Plans Canada Export Hub to Boost Grain, Oil Sales to U.S.

Ceres Global Ag Corp., an agriculture investment firm, is building a C$90 million ($90 million) Canadian export hub at the North Dakota border to expand shipping capacity for grains and crude oil into the U.S.

The 1,500-acre facility in Northgate, Saskatchewan, will be linked to BNSF Railway Co.’s U.S. network, Ceres said today in a statement. The Toronto-based company, which owns 15 grain-storage facilities in Ontario and the U.S. and a Saskatchewan rail line that transports oil, said the port eventually will be able to handle 40 million bushels of grain annually and 70,000 barrels a day of crude.

Canada is the world’s second-largest wheat exporter and the largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S. The government ended the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on grain marketing last year.

“There are a lot more opportunities for Western Canadian farmers to market their grains,” Michael Detlefsen, the president of Ceres, said in a telephone interview from Calgary. “We think there is more demand in the U.S. for Canadian grains, wheat in particular, than might have been served by supply in the past.”

The Northgate hub will ease export bottlenecks that occurred during the past few years at major Canadian ports, including Vancouver, Detlefsen said.

Ceres plans two rail loops with the ability to handle 120 cars on each, with half of the activity and space for grains, and the other for oil transport. Construction will begin in a few months, with operations starting later this year. Ceres is partnering with Scoular Co., a privately-held agriculture marketing firm based in Omaha, Nebraska.

Ceres rose 0.6 percent to C$7.24 on the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index at 2:51 p.m. in Toronto, snapping three days of losses.