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Surprise Resumption of Santos Dredging Relieves Shippers

Posted on November 21, 2016

By Rob Ward,

As shippers using the Brazilian port of Santos cope with delays from strikes by customs officers, they can take relief in the pleasant surprise that sorely needed maintenance dredging has unexpectedly resumed after several weeks of delays.

The additional 1.8 meters (6 feet) of draft will allow ships calling the port to carry up to 180 extra 20-foot-equivalent units.

The maintenance dredging by the Pearl River, a Hopper-type suction dredger owned by Deme Environmental and Engineering of Belgium and operated by Brazilian subsidiary Dragabras, took port watchers by surprise because it began seven days earlier than expected.

“This contract (for maintenance dredging) guarantees the continuity of dredging in the port of Santos and will come as a great relief to our port users, and hopefully with the new depth we will be more efficient and provide a boost to our foreign trade,” said Alex de Oliva, CEO of the Santos port authority Codesp.

The draft at Santos, the biggest port in South America with 3.8 million TEUs in 2015, had fallen from 15 meters to 13.2 meters, leading to draft restrictions that limited the amount of containers that ships could take from Santos and caused delays for shippers.

The restrictions have impacted all of the Santos container terminals, but Brasil Terminal Portuaria, a joint venture between APM Terminals and Terminal Investment Limited, has suffered the most.

For every 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) of extra draft the average container ship can carry an extra eight to 10 containers, according to the the Santos and Sao Paulo Shipagents Association. The average ship calling Santos ranges between 6,000 and 10,000 TEUs.

“We are very pleased indeed to win this contract from Codesp,” Tom de Schepper, a director for Dragabras, told “We had the right vessel, with the right capacity, and available at the right time. Last week we started as soon as the vessel got clearance and we will continue on stretch one until mid December before we move on to the next stretch.”

Work for the 72-million-Brazilian-reais contract ($20.9 million) will occur in four stages, and the stretch closest to BTP will probably be the next that Dragabras dredges, although that decision has not been finalized, according to sources at Codesp.

The four stretches reach 24 kilometers from Barra to Alemoa. This dredging, as well as that for evolution basins and mooring berths, will remove 4.3 million cubic meters of material from the harbor.

In winning the bid, which was awarded to the lowest bidder, Dragabras beat out Brazilian outfits Metropolitana and DTA Engenharia, Belgian rival Jan de Nul, Van Oord (of Holland), and US dredging company Great Lakes Dredging, which is keen to enter the Brazilian market.

Dragabras is familiar with the Brazilian market, having dredged the port of Sepetiba near Rio de Janeiro from the end of 2014 to early 2015.

Source: JOC

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