* Egypt in market for first time since French cargo halted
* Only six suppliers make offers vs average of about 15
* Suppliers adding risk premium to their offers (Adds cost and freight offers)
By Maha El Dahan and Eric Knecht
DUBAI/CAIRO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Egypt’s state grain buyer GASC received fewer offers and was quoted higher prices in a wheat tender on Tuesday, as traders held back due to a dispute over two blocked import cargoes.
GASC received offers from six suppliers, down from the roughly 15 that normally bid to the world’s largest wheat buyer.
One Cairo-based trader said prices offered included a risk premium of between $4 and $11 a tonne.
Traders said the lower participation and higher prices were due to uncertainty after Egypt referred a Romanian and a French cargo to its prosecutor for containing poppy seeds.
The prosecutor has not made a decision yet but the cargoes are expected to be released after sieving. Still, suppliers fear the process could take months amid high costs for demurrage.
The case is reminiscent of a dispute last year when traders shunned Egyptian tenders after the country briefly introduced a zero-tolerance policy towards the common grain fungus ergot.
“There is serious worry about the poppy seeds problem which has reduced tender participation today. This could cause vessel delays in ports of several weeks, even up to a month,” a European trader said.
In the tender, Egypt is seeking cargoes for shipment Oct. 21-31. Results are due later on Tuesday.
The lowest offer was $195 a tonne free-on-board for 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat, while the best price after shipping costs was for $212.20 a tonne cost and freight for a 60,000 tonne Russian cargo.
The Cairo trader said the risk premium added to the Russian wheat was around $4 a tonne, while French and Romanian wheat were quoted $10 and $11 a tonne higher respectively.
Traders said the following offers were made in dollars per tonne on an FOB basis:
*ADM: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195; 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat at $204.25
*Solaris: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $201.02
*GTCS: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $198 and 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $199.50; 55,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $197
*Friends: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $198.89 and 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $199.99
*Cofco: 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat at $204.99
*Casillo: 60,000 tonnes of French wheat at $208.90
Traders also said the following were the best cost and freight (C&F) offers made in the tender:
*ADM: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195 a tonne FOB and $15.50 freight equating to $210.50 C&F
*GTCS: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $198 FOB and $14.20 freight equating to $212.20 C&F
*GTCS: 55,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $197 FOB and $16.25 freight equating to $213.25 C&F
*Friends: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $198.89 FOB and $14.20 freight equating to $213.09 C&F
*GTCS: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $199.50 FOB and $14.76 freight equating to $214.26 C&F
*Friends: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $199.99 FOB and $14.76 freight equating to $214.75 C&F
*Solaris: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $201.02 FOB and $15.05 freight equating to $216.07 C&F
Reporting by Maha El Dahan, Eric Knecht, Michael Hogan and Valerie Parent; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter