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DREDGING ROUNDUP LATIN AMERICA - January/February 2015

COLOMBIA

Four years after severe storms brought massive sediment into the El Guájaro reservoir, the Colombian government is funding a large dredging project to clear the reservoir and its watershed, according to Colombian publications ZonaCero and El Heraldo. The reservoir is located in the mountains above Cartagena and Barranquilla on the country’s Atlantic coast. The dredging project will cost $9.3 billion Colombian pesos, or about $3.8 million USD, and will be conducted by Union Temporal Recuperación Ambiental Embalse El Guájaro 2014, the Provisional Union for the Environmental Recuperation of the el Guájaro, the only bidder on the project. The project is being funded by the Corporación Autónoma Regional del Atlántico, or the Atlantic Regional Autonomous Corporation. The dredging was necessary because the reservoir – the largest body of water in the region – became heavily shoaled when major storms during November 2010 broke an upstream dike and channel, causing a rush of  water into the reservoir. The emergency led to downstream villages being flooded.

MEXICO

The Port of Chiapas’ dredge Bahia Kino last dredged the port in 2013. Dredging began again this year in early January.

The company Dragamex has begun dredging the Port of Chiapas in a project that will eventually remove 700,000 cubic meters of sediment and return the port to its previous depth of 11 meters (36 feet), according to Mexican publication OEM Online. The project, which will cost 70 million Mexican pesos, or $4.8 million USD, is being made by the Administración Portuaria Integral. The dredging began in early January and was expected to take 70 days. API director Edgar Antonio Reyes Gonzalez told OEM that this investment will make Chiapas one of Mexico’s leading ports. “One of the determining factors for the operations of a port is its infrastructure and navigation conditions. Since Chiapas Port is not a natural port, it needs to dredge,” he said. The port was last dredged by military dredge Bahía Kino in 2013.

PANAMA

A new lock gate, weighing 3,400 tons, is installed in one of the Panama Canal’s new locks.

As it marked the 15-year anniversary of Panamanian management, the Panama Canal completed the final set of locks for its expansion and began gate installation. The Canal expansion project is now more than 83 percent complete; all of the dredging has already been finished. The project was delayed last year due to a conflict between the Panama Canal Administration (ACP) and the Italian-based consortium contracted to construct the locks. Once that conflict was resolved, the new locks continued to be built and shipped from Europe to Panama. The first of the new lock gates began installation in mid-December and were completed within a few days. The gates, which weigh on average 3,400 tons, are moved using self-propelled motorized wheel transporters with more than 400 wheels each, according to  an ACP press release. The rest of the gates will be installed by mid-2015.

GUYANA

Dredging by government-owned Steve N has completed crucial work in the Essequibo River in Guayana.

Dredging at a crucial shallow point of the Essequibo River has been completed, and ferries have resumed their normal operations after a three-year hiatus, according to Guyanese publication Staebroek News. The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) announced that the dredging was completed on November 30. It had begun two and a half months earlier, on September 17, using government-owned dredge Steve N. The dredging was taking place at Chalmers Crossing, where sedimentation had made transit difficult for larger ships. The dredging will allow the Malali, Kanawan and Sabanto ferries to begin plying a route between Parika and Supenaam; the river had become too shallow for them to operate, but now they will leave three times a day, their normal operations. The Steve N has since been sent to another shallow point of the river, New Amsterdam Stelling.

COSTA RICA

The dredging work for the new Moin terminal includes dredging an access channel and turning basin.

The new deep container terminal in Moin has finally been granted its environmental approvals. Costa Rica has long sought to take advantage of its proximity to the Panama Canal with a terminal that can accommodate large ships, and has aimed to do that by expanding the Puerto Limon/Moin port complex, which already handles more than 1 million TEUs a year, or about 80 percent of Costa Rica’s maritime commerce. In March 2001, the government signed a $992 million, 33-year contract with Dutch company APM terminals to design, build, operate and maintain a new container terminal with depth of 16 meters (52 feet). In October of 2013, APM announced it had hired a consortium including Van Oord and BAM International to complete the first phase of the project for $460 million. The first phase will include building 40-hectare island about a half a kilometer off shore, dredging the access channel and basin, and building a reinforced shoreline and breakwater protection. For the environmental approvals, the project leaders had produced a 3,000-page document, but it was criticized by local environmentalists. The project was initially slated to begin construction in early 2014, but it was delayed for more than a year as officials struggled to get approval. That approval finally came in December. Now, construction is expected to begin at the end of January or in early February, according to a press release by APM.

VIRGIN ISLANDS

After finding funding for a first phase of expansion at Crown Bay Marina, a second phase is still muddling through a permitting process, according to the St. Croix Source. The Virgin Island Port Authority (VIPA) has been under pressure from the cruise industry to expand the Crown Bay Cargo Port to accommodate larger cruise ships. Ships going to St. Thomas usually dock at the West Indies Co. Dock, but when it is booked, as it frequently is, ships dock at Crown Bay. However, only one of its two docks and entrance channels can accommodate reasonably large ships. In July, the Virgin Islands Senate approved a Coastal Zone Management permit to dredge the other channel and docks. The first phase of the two-phase project has now been completed, but VIPA is waiting on the Fisheries Service Army Corps of Engineers before they can begin dredging the channel. There has been threats by some cruise ships to cancel visits to St. Thomas if the dredging isn’t completed by the tourist season.

ARGENTINA

The province of Buenos Aires inaugurated the country’s largest port investment in 50 years in December, but an economic crisis and a slump in container trade in the South American nation have raised questions about its short-term viability, according to the Buenos Aires Herald. Not a single ship had called at the $450 million terminal as of the end of December. The terminal, called Tecplata, is in the city of La Plata to the southeast of Buenos Aires, and is owned by Philippine corporation International Container Terminal Services, Inc. The container terminal has the capacity to handle 450,000 TEUs a year, but the container trade in Argentina has fallen from 1.85 million TEUs in 2008 to 1.4 million TEUs today. The dock has a length of 600 meters (1.968 feet) and a depth of 36 feet, and the access channel has been dredged to 34 feet from its previous 28 feet. Additional dredging will take place when the terminal is running, and dredges are expected to remove about 5.5 million cubic meters of sedimentation a year.

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