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DREDGING ROUNDUP LATIN AMERICA - November/December 2014

URUGUAY

Despite a history of acerbic relations over dredging with their neighbor Argentina, Uruguayan officials are considering a proposal to make a joint purchase of a dredge. The machine would be purchased using savings made after Argentina forced the end of a dredging contract two years ago. Uruguay has long complained that Argentina won’t allow the expansion of the Martin Garcia Channel, which the two countries share custody of but which Uruguay is more reliant on. The two countries had a kerfuffle over a dredging contract when the contractor, a subsidiary of Boskalis International, was accused of bribery attempts. Since the contract was terminated, the two countries have been using their own dredges to maintain the depth of the channel, with mixed results: there have been a number of ship groundings in recent months. According to the Buenos Aires Herald, Argentine officials say there have been enough savings since the end of the contract that the two countries are now considering purchasing a $30 million shallow-water dredge. That cost could be recuperated with just four years of savings from not contracting a professional dredging company.

PUERTO RICO

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changing the regulations for disposal of dredging materials in Puerto Rico. As it stands, Puerto Rico has five disposal sites, near San Juan Harbor, Yabucoa Harbor, Ponce Harbor, Mayaguez Harbor and Arecibo Harbor. Each of those can only receive dredged material from the specific harbor for which it is named. The EPA would modify these restrictions so that each disposal site could receive materials from other harbors as well, although each disposal activity would still need to be approved by the EPA. This change will allow for more flexibility for disposal in the future. Comments on the change could be made at the website regulations.gov until Nov. 13.

EL SALVADOR

Aerial photo of La Union Port during construction in 2008. The port was completed almost five years ago but has been virtually unused because of political hangups. The port now needs another dredging. (Photo Courtesy of CEPA)

The Salvadorian Port Authority (CEPA) has at long last tendered a bid for dredging at the port of La Unión nearly five years after the port was completed, according to local news outlets. The port was built in 2005 and finally inaugurated in 2010. The port can theoretically handle 750,000 containers annually, but it has never been used due to political complications, despite $200 million in investments. In October, CEPA announced that six companies presented their documents to be considered in a pre-evaluation for bids. The six companies are Jan de Nul, Baggerbedrijf De Boer Holding, Dredging International, Boskalis International, Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors, and Rohde Nielson. The dredging is anticipated to cost $15 million. As it stands, the port has a clearance of about 9.5 meters, or 31 feet, but it will be dredged to 14 meters, or 46 feet.

JAMAICA

Just one company bid on the project to dredge Kingston Container Terminal’s entrance channel, the government announced in September, reported the Jamaica Gleaner. Port Authority of Jamaica officials said they were evaluating the bid and, if it were found to be unacceptable, would tender the bid again. The project is expected to cost about $160 million, and would dredge the access channel and turning basin to 17 meters, or 55 feet.

PANAMA

The third shipment of gates for the Panama Canal Expansion arrived at the canal in September. The four gates arrived Sunday on board the Post-Panamax vessel Xia Zhi Yuan 6 owned by COSCO Ocean Shipping. The shipment began its journey from Trieste, Italy on August 17. Just one shipment of gates remains.

The third of four sets of locks for the expanded Panama Canal have now been delivered. The gates arrived on the ship Xia Zhi Yuan 6, traveling from Trieste, Italy to the Atlantic entrance of the canal over the course of three weeks in late August and early September. The gates, which are 190 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 100 feet tall will be used on the Pacific end of the canal. They were the source of controversy when a subcontractor threatened not to deliver them in a dispute with the Panama Canal Authority. The fourth set of gates should arrive in January 2015.

GUYANA

The Steve N dredge in Guyana. The 30-year old dredge has been deployed to dredge the shallow areas of the Essequibo River.

The Maritime Administration Department is employing its 30-year-old suction hopper dredge Steve N to dredge the shallow points of the Essequibo River, particularly around Chalmers Crossing. Dredging began on September 17 and was expected to be completed by the end of October. The project will especially aid the transit of government ferry vessels operating between Parika and Supenaam/Wakenaam. After the completion of the project on the Essequibo, the Steve N will return to its normal maintenance work on the Demerara River. The Steve N was dry-docked for repair in 2011 and was out of commission for over a year.

COLOMBIA

Belgian firm Jan de Nul will widen and deepen the entrance channel to Cartagena Port at a cost of about $30 million, according to Colombian paper El Universal. Jan de Nul was one of two firms considered for the project, along with Dredging International. It will replace Boskalis, which was hired to dredge the channel to its depth of 15.5 meters (51 feet), after it had accumulated enough sediment to be reduced to about 12 meters (39 feet) as of late last year. Jan de Nul has been hired to dredge the port to 20.5 meters (67 feet). It will also be widened from 84 meters (276 feet) to 150 meters (492 feet). IDR reported last year that the expansion was controversial because it required expanding into an area of historical value. An alternate plan would have dredged through areas of environmental sensitivity.

BRAZIL

The Standing Committee on the Bidding of Dredging Works and Services received proposals from five companies for the dredging of the Rio de Janeiro Port Complex in October. The single best bid was by local engineering company Bandeirantes Dredging and Construction Ltd., who  asked for $96 million for the work, reported the Brazilian media Portogente. The Committee has now closed the bid and is negotiating the price.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

A DSC Wolverine Class dredge works in a sediment pond in Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic, at a mining operation run by Barrick Gold Corp. of Canada.

Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada purchased a DSC Wolverine dredge, which will be used in Pueblo Viejo, the Sanchez Ramirez Province of the Dominican Republic. Barrick has the largest mining operation in the area, producing minerals, such as gold, silver, copper and limestone. In 2006, Barrick began a wide-scale cleanup of the area, including removing 180,000 cubic meters (6.35 million cubic feet) of contaminated soil. The new DSC dredge will help maintain the sediment ponds that contain contaminated water from cleaning precious metals before treatment at the facility’s water plant. Dredging will remove silt and sand that also build up in the ponds. The 68-foot long DSC dredge, powered by a 440 hp Catepillar C13 ACERT diesel engine, can dredge up to 25 feet and has a 10-inch discharge configuration. The cutterhead has six cast-steel smooth blades and is attached to a Kawasaki hydraulic cutter motor. The dredge pump, a J30 Metso Minerals/Thomas Simplicity series, is rated for 200 feet total discharge head at 4,200 gallons per minute. Five hydraulic winches, rated with a 4,500-pound line pull capacity, are used to swing the dredge, lift the spuds and lift the ladder.

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