Monday , 23 September 2019
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There is a double dose of good news for terminal operators in Brazil’s Port of Santos, South America’s premier port. Firstly, the Pedra de Itapema (Itapema Rock) was blasted from the main access channel and secondly, the threat of further industrial action has been averted.

Between a rock and a deep place

All but a handful of the 300 workers of Codesp, the Santos port authority, recently downed tools and brought the port to a virtual standstill. Everando Cirino dos Santos (president of port workers union Sindaport) said that if demands for extra overtime payments, an above inflation 9.6% pay rise and other conditions weren’t met, more strikes would follow. However, Codesp sources have now told CM that “all union grievances have been met (and) no further action is expected.”

Luiz Araujo, commercial manager, Tecondi the third biggest box terminal in Santos said that strike action had led to some dislocation with vessels being delayed around 12 hours at both Tecondi and Libra Terminais’ T-37 facility. “Some of the delays were caused by a snowball effect from the Codesp strike and also from the arrival of the heavy lift vessel bringing the new ship-to-shore gantry cranes to Libra T-37. Codesp says 25 vessels were delayed but many of them were probably at the public berths,” he added.

Secondly, on Saturday November 26, 2011 the final demolition blasting of the Itapema Rock was completed, providing greater depths (from 12.2 m to more than 14 m) for the existing container terminals of Tecondi and Rodrimar and crucially, for the two soon to be opened facilities of Brasil Terminal Portuaria (BTP), a joint venture between APM Terminals and MSC and Embraport (a DP World and Brazilian construction company Odebrecht venture).

The latter two terminals will now be able to handle vessels of up to 9,000 teu capacity and they will provide serious competition to the Port’s two leading box terminals; Libra Terminais and Santos Brasil SA, who are not affected by rock removal.

The Itapema Rock is the smaller of two rocks that have been a navigational hazard since the Port of Santos opened for business at the end of the 18th century.

Previously a Chinese drill and blast ship – the Yuan Dong 007 – removed a larger rock, the Teffe Rock at the end of October, following which attention switched to the smaller Itapema Rock, located on the Guaruja side of the channel.

The Teffe Rock was so large, that at zero tide, only vessels up to 11.7 m draught were able to access the Tecondi and Rodrimar container terminals, the Decimar car terminal, and several liquid bulk facilities in the Alemoa sector of the Port. This draught has now increased to 12.7 m and these terminals should have 14 m draught by the end of March 2012, once some “tidying up dredging” has taken place.

The Santos Channel width will also increase from 150 m to 220 m and will greatly speed up the passage of ships through the port of Santos, which is expected to handle around 3m teu in 2011.

Araujo told CM: “The removal of the Teffe and Itapema Rocks is fantastic news for us at Tecondi as well as all the other terminals at this end of the port. Not only will we all eventually have increased alongside depths of 15 m but the two-way traffic channel access will also smooth out the flow of vessels in/out of the port. These are all great improvements.”

However, both Araujo and a spokesman for BTP emphasised the necessity for regular maintenance dredging once the SEP (Ministry of Ports) dredging project is completed.