CHICAGO, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Hurricane Ida damaged a grain export elevator owned by global grain trader Cargill Inc, and rival shipper CHS Inc warned on Monday its grain facility may lack power for weeks after the storm tore though the busiest U.S. grains port.
Cargill said its Reserve, Louisiana, terminal, one of two the company operates along the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico, "sustained significant damage" when the storm roared ashore.
Rival crop exporters Bunge Ltd and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co said they were working to assess damage to their area export facilities.
The storm has disrupted grain and soybean shipments from the Gulf Coast, which accounts for about 60% of U.S. exports, at a time when global supplies are tight and demand is strong from China.
Images of the damaged Cargill terminal, with a twisted and partially collapsed grain conveyor system, circulated on Twitter and were shared among grain traders and barge shippers.
"This area in SE Louisiana is still facing significant personal safety concerns and power outages, so we are just able to start assessing the storm's impact on the river system. We don't currently have a timeframe for resuming operations," Cargill said in a statement.
CHS is working to divert export shipments scheduled through the next month to its terminal in Kalama, Washington, as the hurricane knocked out a transmission line that powers its Myrtle Grove facility south of New Orleans, the company said.
"Best estimates as to when power will be restored at the terminal are in the two to four week range," said John Griffith, executive vice president at CHS Global Grain & Processing.
Cash premiums for grain delivered by barge to Gulf terminals for export fell sharply on Monday as traders feared a prolonged recovery from the storm.
A preliminary assessment of Bunge's Destrehan, Louisiana, export terminal and oilseed processing plant found no significant structural damage, spokeswoman Deb Seidel said.
Bunge had hoped to restart operations on Tuesday after shutting down on Saturday ahead of the storm. But power to the facility remains out with no estimate for when it may be restored, Seidel said.
Archer-Daniels-Midland will assess damage to four New Orleans grain elevators and port operations it closed over the weekend ahead of the hurricane, spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said.
"ADM has a vast transportation network and we are making alternate shipping arrangements as necessary to meet customers' needs as we manage through this difficult situation," she said in an email.