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Jan/Feb 2017 - DR/LA



Brazil Steelmaker to Dredge Channel to Improve Port Infrastructure

Brazilian flats steelmaker Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais S.A (Usiminas) announced in January it closed a consideration contract with Salus Infraestrutura Portuaria to recover the Piacaguera channel to its minimum depth. According to the Brazilian steelmaker, the dredged channel will provide access to the company’s private port terminals and to Ultrafertil’s terminals near the Port of Santos. Ultrafertil is the company managing the agreement. Usiminas said the deal will enable it to improve its port infrastructure and the “continuity of vessel’s traffic in the channel.” Usiminas explained that the agreement for both companies to exchange mutual performances is subject to certain requisites that should be complied by Salus, which is under Ultrafertil’s management, and the steelmaker, itself. Usiminas did not disclose much of those details. Usiminas should pay for the consideration contract according to the volumes it transports through the channel, after it reaches certain depth, which weren’t disclosed by the steel producer. State and federal prosecutors are investigating dredging at the Piacaguera channel at the Port of Santos. The investigators are analyzing if there’s any risk of contamination in the channel due to its pollution history by heavy metals in the past.


Canlemar Performs Maintenance Dredging at Argentina’s Mar de La Plata Port

In February, Spanish dredge operator Canlemar SL began maintenance dredging at the Argentinian Mar de La Plata Port, located in the city of same name in the province of Buenos Aires. The port’s administrator Consorcio Portuario Regional Mar del Plata should pay an estimated ARS 56 million (US$3.62 million) to complete the project, which is expected to be completed by May. Canlemar is using its trailing suction hopper dredge Omvac 10 to remove sediments at the port’s South Pier. This is the first step before dredging the facility’s access channels, turning basin, as well as other interior areas of the terminal. The president of Consorcio Portuario Regional Mar del Plata, Martin Merlini, said Canlemar should remove about 45,000 cubic meters (about 58,860 cubic yards) of sediments at the port. The port administrator’s goal is to recover its navigability, where the excess sediment is said to be spreading over a 10-km (6.2-mile) extension in the port’s entrance area.


Brazilian Companies to Dredge Itaguaí Port

Two Brazilian companies could assume dredging at the Itaguai Port, located in the city of same name, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Local steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (CSN) and Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, are reportedly at a final negotiation stage with Rio de Janeiro’s state port administrator, Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro, to commence dredging at the state-owned facility. Both CSN and Vale operate three terminals at the Itaguai Port. Typically, dredging at state-run ports is the government’s responsibility, namely a duty of Brazil’s Secretariat of Ports (SEP), an arm of the country’s Ministry of Transports, Ports and Civil Aviation. Local media reported in February the Brazilian government doesn’t have money to run the project, so it is considering what could be the country’s first public–private partnership (PPP) dredging project.


Panama Canal Reaches New Monthly Record

The Panama Canal has reached a new monthly tonnage record in January with the transit of 1,260 ships through both the expanded and the original locks, Panama’s Canal Authority (ACP) said. According to ACP, the new record of 36.1 million Panama Canal tons surpassed the previous milestone set in December last year, when 1,166 ships transited the waterway

for a total of 35.4 million Panama Canal tons. (The Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) is based on net tonnage, modified for Panama Canal purposes. PC/UMS is based on a mathematical formula to calculate a vessel's total volume; one PC/UMS net ton is equivalent to 100 cubic feet of capacity.) "This increase reiterates the importance of the expanded canal, and it is a further proof of the maritime industry's continued confidence in the Panama Canal and the impact it will have on the future of global trade," Jorge Quijano, Panama’s Canal Administrator, said. Previously to the December record, the Panama Canal highest monthly tonnage had been set on October 2014, when it reached 30.4 million Panama Canal tons. The expanded canal was inaugurated in June last year. As of January this year, the expanded canal transited more than 750 Neopanamax vessels - more than 50 percent of which were container ships. “In April 2017, the expanded canal will continue to impact world maritime trade with the passage of the first Neopanamax cruise vessel. Neopanamax passenger vessels are capable of transporting up to 4,000 passengers, nearly twice as much as the Panamax vessels able to transit the original locks,” ACP said in a press-release.

Panama’s expanded canal expects passage of first Neopanamax cruise vessel. Photo credit: ACP.


Colombian Port Authority Demands Dredging at Magdalena’s River

Local port authority Asoportuaria sent a letter to river management authority Cormagdalena demanding it to enforce maintenance dredging at the Magdalena River in Colombia, due to its critical depth, whether existing contractor Navelena, a consortium made up of Brazilian company Odebrecht and the Colombian government Valorcon, may be able to perform it or not. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation was expected to provide financing for Navelena, so it could advance dredging at the Magdalena River. Since the bank gave up in financing the project, Navelena may not be able to do it. The consortium has also been subject to criticism of both the local media and authorities, including the country’s Office of the Attorney General. Navelena explained in late January that the contract it won in 2014 to keep the navigability of the Magdalena River met all legal requisites, in response to media reports claiming Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General was investigating alleged irregularities in the deal. Asoportuaria officials fear low river levels in the Rio Magdalena may result in an unnavigable system. The document said the river’s current depth isn’t allowing vessels to dock at the Barranquilla Port, affecting both the region and the country’s economic activities. The Magdalena River depth is said to be as low as 8.6 meters (28.1 feet.), while the authorized draft for vessels is 9.1 meters (29.8 feet.) According to Asoportuaria, Navelena has an existing contract, which obligates it to keep the river’s depth at 12.2 meters (40 feet.) Navelena should also have a second plan to make the dredging at the required river levels possible. The consortium has been subject to criticism of both the local media and local authorities, including the country’s Office of the Attorney General. Navelena explained in late January that the contract it won in 2014 to keep the navigability of the Magdalena River was transparent, in response to media reports claiming Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General was investigating alleged irregularities in the deal.

Navelena performs maintenance dredging at Colombia’s Magdalena River. Photo: Navelena.


Dredging at Santiago’s River in Mexico Begins

Early in February, the Mexican Inter-Municipal System of Drinking Water and Sewerage Services (SIAPA) announced it will perform cleaning as well as dredging at the Santiago River near the Ocotlan city area. The maintenance dredging project will be performed by SIAPA through a recently acquired amphibious multipurpose dredge, a Classic IV from Watermaster, which was was manufactured in Finland and cost about MXN 18 million (US$884,520.) The equipment weights about 20 tons and can dredge 200 cubic meters (about 262 cubic yards) per day of aquatic weed and has the ability to work up to two eight-hour shifts per day. SIAPA workers should receive training from technicians from Finland in order to be able to operate the dredge.


Jan De Nul Concludes Dredging at Uruguay’s River

Jan De Nul completed the dredging of the Casa Blanca section in the Uruguay River, from the kilometers 196 to 200 between the cities of Concepcion, in Argentina, and Paysandu, in Uruguay. According to Gaston Silbermann, president of the Administrative Commission of the Uruguay River (CARU), it was the first time a dredge operated near the Casa Blanca area at a depth of 5.79 meters (19 feet). As a result of the operation, vessels with a 5.79-meter (17-foot) draft can now transit the area. Jan De Nul’s cutter suction dredge Kaerius extracted 555,000 cubic meters (about 725,000 cubic yards) of sediments at the Casa Blanca section in the Uruguay River after three weeks of work.

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