A group of Brazilian pilots are asking national port authorities to limit the length of vessels permitted to call into the country’s largest container port, Santos. A ship owners’ representative warned of dire consequences if the navigators have their way.
President of the Sao Paulo/Santos branch of national pilots’ association Conapra, Claudio Paulino, said it wants to see a 266 m (873 ft) length restriction at the port because insufficient dredging makes it unsafe for vessels, such as the 300 m-long CMA CGM Tigris which docked there early in February. At 10,622 teu, it is also the largest container ship handled by Santos to date.
But Claudio Loureiro, executive president of Centronave which represents foreign-flag ship owners operating in Brazil, criticised the idea in a letter to local port authority Codesp. The consequences could be bad for Santos if the current limit of 336 m length, depending on tidal conditions and location of port terminal, is reduced to 266 m.
“These views [from Conapra Sao Paulo] do a disservice to the port community of Santos. Freight costs have been systematically falling over the past few years in all trade lanes due to intense competition between the ship owners, which transfers the benefits that economies of scale can provide. It is clear that the costs per unit carried increase if we reduce the size of vessels.”
He argued that Santos might lose some of its regular services if it were not allowed to modernise and accept bigger ships.
A final decision on Conapra Sao Paulo’s request rests jointly with the Special Brazilian Ports Ministry and Brazilian Navy.
The French shipping line this year added CMA CGM Tigris to its weekly SEAS2 service linking 13 ports in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa with Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. It is also the fourth in a series of 28 ships in the 9,400 to 10,900 teu class to enter the company’s fleet. The vessel is equipped with the latest environmental technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and, at 1,458, has a high capacity in Reefer plugs, according to CMA CGM.
With a throughput of 3.45m teu in 2013, Santos was 38th in CM’s World Top Container Ports 2014, the highest place achieved by a South American port.