Lack of dredging impacts liquid bulk operations in Santos Port

The operation of liquid bulk in the Port of Santos, in the brazilian state of São Paulo, has been hampared, following the reduction of the operational draft limit in the berths of Alemoa and Barnabé Island. Piers are interdicted, increasing the waiting/queue of vessels. At least 14 cargo ships cancelled calls at the Santos port and proceeded to other ports.

The lack of constant maintenance dredging, combined with the siltation of the channel, forced the reduction of the operational draft limit in three berths intended for operations of liquid bulk. The contract to perform the sediment removal service on the waterway ended in April, but the Companhia Docas of São Paulo (CODESP), company that runs the port, thought there was no risk of restrictions on incoming ships.

Unfortunely, in Alemoa there was a reduction of 70 centimeters in a bething point. From 10.9 meters to 10.2 meters. On Barnabé Island, the berth in which the draft limit was 10.2 meters, suffered a 1.2 meters reduction. The draft is of only 9 meters now. Also, the docking pier that allowed operations of ships withs drafts of up to 10.4 now only receives vessels with 9.5 meters below the waterline.

The berths of Alemoa and Barnabé Island concentrate the liquid bulk operations at the Port of Santos.

The Union of Maritime Navigation Agencies of the State of São Paulo (Sindamar) expressed concern. The main fear revolves around rising demurrage costs, given the longer waiting times for larger ships to berth.

For the President of the Brazilian Association of Liquid Terminals (ABTL), Carlos Kopittke, the situation is complicated and the solution should take some time. According to him, Alemoa pier 1, used by Transpetro (a subsidiary of Petrobras), is limited and only ships up to 230 meters can operate safely. In this case, the solution may take up to 10 months, as it is necessary to hire a company that specializes in the maintenance of dolphins.

Codesp rules out emergency hiring

Codesp said in a statement that the reduction of the operating draft in some berths was ordered due to the identification of depth loss at these points, attested by bathymetries performed by Codesp.

Regarding the defense of the wharfs 1 and 2 of Alemoa, “the recovery has already been contracted and in mobilization for the immediate start of the services, with 15 days to complete the first and another 15 days to complete the second”.

CODESP also announced that, next year, it should start construction of a new pier on Barnabé Island and, with the public bidding of the STS 08 area, the Port will gain two more berths for liquid bulk.