News and information for the worldwide dredging industry

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DREDGING ROUNDUP LATIN AMERICA

Uruguay

Royal Boskalis Westminster Group has denied allegations of corruption in the Rio de la Plata dispute between Argentina and Uruguay. The two countries have been in a diplomatic battle over one of the channels through the waterway, over which they share authority. Boskalis subsidiary Riovia has held the contract for dredging and maintenance of that channel, but the contract recently expired. According to media reports, Riovia leadership suggested a $1 million kickback if the contract was extended, which led to Argentina accusing Uruguay of not helping out with an investigation. The investigation was closed, then reopened. Boskalis public relations official Martijn Schuttevaer told New Zealand publication NBR Online that “there was never an offer made so there is nothing to investigate,” and that his company has simply been “caught in the crossfire of a political dispute.” Since the Riovia contract expired, the two nations’ navies have been conducting maintenance dredging, an arrangement expected to last a year, or until the international dispute can be sorted out.

Brazil

Brazilian dredging company Luschi has been contracted to conduct dredging in lagoons in the Uberaba region of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. It was contracted by Vale Fertilizantes, which produces fertilizers for the Brazilian market. Initially, the project involved using draglines to remove raw materials from the lagoon RLT2 Uberaba, to be used in the production of fertilizers. However, this proved to be an inefficient method on its own, so Vale hired Luschi to suction dredge the material.

Luschi teams worked three shifts daily and deposited the dredged material to the edges of the lagoon, where the material was then removed with draglines.

Panama

The administrator of the Panama Canal Authority has admitted there will be additional delays in the opening of the expanded canal. The project, which will allow a new class of post-Panamax vessels to take the short cut between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, was to have been completed by 2014. However, in a phone interview with Bloomberg, administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said the waterway won’t be open for transits until June 2015. He said the project is not going “as fast as I would have liked.” The whole project was 50 percent complete as of the turn of the year, and the majority of the dredging work is completed.

Mexico

There has been buzz for a while about a planned expansion of the Mexican port of Guaymas. The nation’s sixth largest port, located in northwest Mexico, is the principal port for the state of Sonora and has been growing fast in recent years. Its cargo volume increased 32.3 percent in 2011 over the year before. In April, the Integrated Port Administration (API) of Guaymas hopes to call for bids for the first phase of expansion of the port, according to Mexican Business Web. The director of the terminal, José Luis Castro Ibarra, said the port will invest 7.2 billion pesos, or about US$550 million, into the port, about half of which will be allocated to dredging, signage, filling and development of the common areas. Before the bid tender, the government must complete an environmental impact study. The dredging could be complete within 15 months of the start date and remove about a million cubic meters of dredged material per month.

Honduras

The Philippines-based port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. was awarded a deal to expand and then manage the container and cargo terminal at Puerto Cortės, Honduras in February. The company will be responsible for the design, financing, construction, maintenance and operation of the Central American nation’s main seaport. The company was awarded the 30-year contract in a hearing on February 1. The port has 14 meters of draft. The company has plans to triple the port’s volume capacity to 1.8 million TEUs. The bid expands ICTSI’s reach in Latin America, where it already has port projects in Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil.

Ecuador

For the first time in 51 years, the Rio Guayas, near Guayaquil, is being dredged. The Ecuadorian Navy began an 11-month dredging process of the river in February, various Ecuadorian media report. The first stage of dredging will remove 290,000 cubic meters of sediment located in the channel between the islet of El Palomar and La Puntilla, a neighborhood located on a point of land in the river as it passes through Guayaquil. The dredging of that channel will prevent flooding in nearby neighborhoods. Navy suction dredges Maria and Raisa will carry out this process, removing the sediment and placing it on the islet. The secondary goal of the project is to displace migratory birds who call the islet home, and that have caused problems for planes landing at the nearby airport, according to online publication Hoy.com.ec. The project is expected to cost about $4.5 million.

Chile

The Port of Iquique has begun the process of bidding its Terminal 1 for what will likely be a 30-year concession, reports MundoMaritimo.cl. The port would like to expand the terminal by an additional berth that could support post-Panamax ships. The port, located in the far north of Chile and in a unique free-trade zone, has expanded rapidly over the last decade and a half. Its annual cargo transferred more than doubled between 2000 and 2011, increasing from 1.3 million tons to 2.7 million tons. That increase has catapulted the port into position as the largest trading port in Northern Chile.

Argentina

Progress is being made on a new container terminal in Buenos Aires. The container terminal, called Puerto la Plata, will provide 820 meters of wharf, and 41 hectares of storage areas and other facilities. The new terminal and its access channel will have a depth of 34 feet, and about 70 percent of the dredging is now complete, according to a report by La Politica Online. The concession to build and operate the port was given to TecPlata S.A., a subsidiary of International Terminal Container Services, Inc., in 2008. Though the project has endured some delays – it was initially slated to be completed by last year – work is now anticipated to wrap up in October of this year. The port hopes to move 300,000 containers per year by 2016.

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