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August 11, 2020

Port of Paranagua to Continue Loading very Large Grain Vessels

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Several weeks ago, the Port of Paranagua in southern Brazil loaded the largest vessel ever to dock at the port, the E.R. Bayonne, with 104,200 thousand tons of soybean meal destined for Amsterdam. The vessel is 292 meters long and 45 meters wide and it is the second vessel of this size to be loaded at the port in 2020. Port officials indicated that there should be two or three more vessels of that size loaded in 2020.

In 2019, the port imitated a program to modernize the port so it could accommodate these larger which can hold almost twice the amount of grain compared to the regular vessels that utilize the port, which generally hold approximately 60,000 tons. The port has increased the draft at the berths and the channel leading to the port and they have installed new shiploaders.

Being able to accommodate these larger vessels gives the port an advantage over rival ports in Brazil by lowering the cost of freight. Additionally, vessels at the Port of Paranagua can be loaded from different grain terminals that are interconnected, which makes Paranagua more competitive than other ports in Brazil, Argentina or even the U.S. At the Port of Santos for example, each berth is connected to only one grain terminal.

These larger vessels are generally used to transport heavier cargos such as minerals and as a result, not many Asian ports can accommodate such large grain vessels. The Port of Amsterdam can accommodate these larger vessels and Europe is the largest importer of Brazilian soybean meal.

Last year the Port of Paranagua invested R$ 403 million to make the port accessible to these larger vessels and they are poised to invest an additional R$ 1 billion to continue their expansion and modernization program.

To make better use of these larger vessels, the Export Corridor needs to expand its capacity, which is currently at its limit. The port can only load one of these large vessels at a time and the vessel must be adjusted during the loading process.

The Export Corridor has three berths and each berth has two shiploaders capable of loading 1,500 tons per hour. The plan calls for increasing the capacity of each shiploader to 4,000 tons per hour and to increase the draft from 12.5 meters to 16 meters. The most ambitious part of the plan is to extend the Export Corridor's length and to build a new berth further out in the bay parallel to the existing berths. This would allow for the port to load two of these large vessels at a time. The port is in the process of securing funding for the expansion project.