January 17, 2013

Port of Paranagua Deepens Ship Channel to Improve Efficiency

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

One of the reasons why the Port of Paranagua in southern Brazil suffers from chronic congestion and long lineups of vessels waiting to berth is that the larger vessels were not allowed to set sail at night due to a shallow draft in the shipping channel. In an attempt to improve the situation, the port completed a dredging operation last October that depend the shipping channel.

The dredging reestablished the original 15 meters of draft in the 200 meter wide shipping channel. This is allowing nighttime movement of vessels up to 305 meters long, whereas before the dredging only vessels up to 210 meters were allowed to embark during the nighttime hours between 6 pm and 6 am. The deeper channel offers more flexibility to maneuver the vessels waiting in the bay, but it has not improved the loading of the vessels.

Even though the shipping channel has been deepened, shallow drafts at the public berths (8 to 12 meters) does not allow for the larger vessels to leave the berth completely loaded. The larger vessels may have to make one or two additional stops at other Brazilian ports before they are fully loaded with grain. The maximum draft for a vessel to leave at any time of the day is 10.6 meters. Vessels with deeper drafts must wait for high tide to set sail.

Port officials feel this will improve operational efficiency by 30% during the harvest period and 15% during the intra harvest. They are looking for any improvements possible in anticipation of a record large 2012/13 Brazilian soybean crop.