Rio de Janeiro will be the first container port to benefit from Brazil’s $1.28 billion dredging program.
Edinho Araujo, head of the Special Ports Ministry in Brazil, has just signed a Reais210 million (US$70.54 million) contract with dredging companies Van Oord and Boskalis to deepen the navigation channels to the port of Rio de Janeiro.
The two Dutch dredging companies will carry out studies and soundings of Guanabara Bay over the next five months and complete the design for the channel and turning basin. The dredging work itself will take another six months to complete.
The deepening project, which will extend the allowable draft for ships to 14 meters from the current 12.4 meters, will allow larger ships to call at Brazil’s third-busiest container port.
Container ships of up to 9,600-TEU capacity will be able to access Rio de Janeiro when the project is completed by mid-2016, providing shippers with greater economies of scale. Rio de Janeiro could provide an alternative for shippers on the Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro state border, an area that hosts hundreds of large exporters and key automobile exporters, including Volkswagon.
“This development is great news for the port of Rio de Janeiro and for all those involved in the container sector here,” said Luiz Henrique Carneiro, president of Multi-Rio, one of the two container terminals operating in Rio de Janeiro. “This will allow us to handle bigger vessels of more than 9,000-TEU capacity, which is an increase of more than 50 percent over the 6,000-TEU ships we can handle today.”
Carneiro said that in addition to the extra draft the dredging will provide, the project will permit the maximum length of vessel to rise from 295 meters to 340 meters, and the maximum beam to increase to 48 meters from the current 42 meters. Rio and Guanabara Bay, which includes the port installations of Niteroi as well as Rio de Janeiro, have an advantage over Santos and other major box ports in Brazil, he said. The port is not a river port, and therefore once dredged, the draft will be maintained naturally and won’t need frequent renewed, maintenance dredging.
“The prospects for the Rio container terminals is very good now with this investment in dredging, but we do also need further investment in transport infrastructure, roads, etc.,” said Andre de Seixas, coordinator of the port users website.
The Rio de Janeiro dredging contract is part of the National Dredging Scheme Part 2, which will see some Reais3.8 billion (US$1.28 billion) spent on dredging in Brazilian ports to allow bigger vessels to call along the east coast of South America. The first part of the dredging plan began in the early 2000s and paved the way for the bigger vessels calling today at ports in Brazil and on the east coast of South America.
Meanwhile, at the port of Santos — Brazil’s biggest container port, which handled 3.685 million TEUs last year — the dredging process has hit snags over the past year.
The Special Ports Ministry is now inviting bidders to come forward for a “third” tender, with a March 17 deadline for proposals. Two previous attempts failed because the government’s estimates of the costs were considered “uneconomical” by the international dredging companies whose bids were above the maximum amount the ministry was prepared to pay.
With the currency, the Real, weakening against the dollar, the amount per cubic meter dredged will have risen so the ministry’s procrastination will cost them dearly.
Contractors Boskalis, Van Oord, Dredging International and Jan de Nul are expected to submit bids.
Previous tenders were for three years and the maximum contract price was Reais378.5 million, but now bidders are to offer a contract for a lower minimum, covering a period of only 17 months. The aim will be to dredge down from today’s 15 meters to 15.7 meters.
The 10,900-TEU CMA CGM Tigris — 300 meters long with a beam of 48.2 meters —has been the largest container ship to call at the port of Santos, docking at Brasil Tecon Santos terminal. Prior to that, the biggest vessels were in the 9,000- to 9,600-TEU range.
Brazilian pilots’ union, Conapra, has been lobbying Brasilia to restrict such big vessels calling at Santos because, its members claim, the draft is not sufficient to allow safe passage. They are calling for a 266-meter length restriction at Santos.
Centronave, which represents foreign-flag shipowners in Brazil, sees this as a ploy for Conapra members to protect their monopoly status and their up to US$1million per year remuneration, which Brasilia is trying to cut back.
Contact Rob Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.