Posted on September 22, 2021
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Argentina’s government has formally agreed a 90-day deal with Belgian firm Jan de Nul to keep dredging the Parana River, a key grains thoroughfare, according to a resolution published on Tuesday in the Official Gazette.
The resolution also included the launch of a tender for the longer-term maintenance of the inland waterway, along which some 80% of the South American country’s farm exports including soy, corn and wheat are transported.
Reuters reported the short-term deal earlier this month, citing a government source.
The dredging of the Parana, in question since the center-left government announced plans for the state to take a more active role in the waterway, is key for huge container ships being able to navigate from inland farm regions to the ocean.
Argentina is the world’s top exporter of processed soy, the second largest producer of corn and a major exporter of wheat and barley. The depth of the Parana is a competitive advantage for the country’s exporters, allowing access for bigger ships.
At the start of the year, Jan de Nul’s long-term concession to dredge the Parana expired. The new deal means the firm’s local subsidiary will carry out the work until a 180-day tender is completed. A longer tender will later be offered.
According to the resolution, the work is urgent to “ensure the continuity of the operating conditions” of the waterway, especially given the extremely low level of the Parana River due to a historical drought upriver in southern Brazil.
The Parana is at its lowest level in Argentina in almost 77 years, which has generated logistical difficulties for the country’s huge agro-export trade and hurt communities living along the banks of the river.
(Reporting by Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Nicolas Misculin and Steve Orlofsky)