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Asian carriers think Santos PAC is a dredging booster

Asian carriers think Santos PAC is a dredging booster

Rio de Janeiro: Asia's top container carriers - and possibly a Chinese dredging company - could gain from a plan by Brazil's Port Minister Pedro Brito to make sure the South American country's key port of Santos is dredged down to 17 metres within the next two years.

For Brito says that such has been the success of the government's USD$140bn Programa de Aceleracao do Crescimento (PAC, or Programme to Accelerate the Economy), that a second version is already needed, and he and other members of the Brazillian government are already busy preparing one.

And PAC 2, as Brito is already calling it, will include the dredging of Santos, South America's largest port, down to 17 metres, thereby allowing boxships of 10,000 Teu and beyond to berth. This will be a major benefit to NYK Lines, MOL Line, Evergreen, Hanjin and K Line, who all operate services to Asia out of Santos.

A line manger at NYK LInes in Brazil told Seatrade Asia Online: "We think it is a great idea, for the greater the depth the bigger the vessels we can berth here and that gives us many more options than we have today."

Already Santos is being dredged down from 13 metres to 15 metres under a Reais200m (USD$115.8m) contract funded by PAC 1, and now some of the largest container vessels in the world will be able to berth in the port once the dredging component of PAC 2 is completed. Shanghai Dredging Company is part of the consortium (called Draga Brazil), which is carrying out the current dredging and could be in reckoning to win the bid to dredge down to the 17 m mark.

PAC 2 will be drawn up early next year and by June at the latest, Brito revealed at a logistics conference held in Sao Paulo recently.

 Brito said: "It is certain that dredging Santos down to 17 m will be part of PAC 2. This is essential as the capacity of our leading port needs to at least double over the next decade."

Ongoing building works at two new terminals - Embraport (where Dubai based DP World has an interest) and Terminal Brasil Portuaria (where MSC has an interest) - will help boost Santos's capacity from today's 4.5m teu, up to more than 9m teu per annum.  [04/12/09]