Draft Restriction Further Limits Three Santos Container Terminals

More draft restriction due to a lack of dredging is preventing three marine terminal at the Brazilian port of Santos from handling fully-loaded 9,000-TEU ships, as the Journal of Commerce reports.

The restrictions at the busiest container port in Brazil and South America could lead to less cargo moving through three terminals as competitors within the port that enjoy deeper drafts grab the business away. The draft  Ecoporto Santos, Brasil Terminal Portuaria and Embraport for has gone from 14.1 meters (nearly 46.3 feet) in mid-May to 12.7 meters.

The Union of Port Operators State São Paulo, or Sopesp, said in a statement,  “the various draft restriction are creating irreparable consequences, creating hundreds of thousands of Reais of extra costs for the Port of Santos, the City of Santos and the Brazil.”

Shippers and the three affected terminal operators are furious that long-promised dredging has not been completed, despite intense lobbying of the central government in Brasilia to release funding. In the short term, Santo backers want to switch ongoing maintenance dredging from one stretch of the channel to another.

One of the main reasons for the dredging delays is  the constant bickering between port authority Codesp and the Special Ports Ministry, which has now been subsumed into the Department of Transport. Port users worry about about the lack of draft and that it’s shrinking, despite their initial hopes that a campaign to get the draft deepened to 15 meters and then 17 meters by 2017 was going to guarantee the port could handle even larger vessels.

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