March 23, 2011

Ship Covers Part of Proposed Modernization of Port of Paranagua

The superintendent of the Port of Paranagua has presented a proposal to the Minister of Ports for a modernization of the port located in southern Brazil. The port is one of the principal grain exporting ports of Brazil, but it continues to be plagued by inadequate infrastructure and repeated delays. One of the novel components of the modernization plan is a proposal for retractable covers that would allow for continued loading operations even when it is raining.

The proposed retractable canvass covers would cover the entire extent of the ship and would allow loading during periods of rain and wind. No other port in Brazil has such covers and in fact only a few ports in the world have them.

The proposed retractable covers are part of a much larger proposal to expand the capacity of the port. Currently three ships at a time can be loaded at the three public berths at the port. The ships are positioned parallel to the pier and each berth is serviced by two ship loaders, each with a capacity of 1,500 tons per hour. When everything is operating normally, the port can load 9,000 tons of grain per hour.

Due to the position of the berths, the maximum size ship that the port can currently accommodate is "post panamax" with a capacity of 75,000 tons, but due to inadequate draft at the berths, the maximum for each ship is now limited to 70,000 tons.

The new plan proposes changing the orientation and the shape of the berths to two "T" shape berths that are perpendicular to the pier. That would allow for four ships to be loaded at a time. This reorientation would also allow for larger "cape size" ships with a capacity of 110,000 tons to be loaded. Each ship would be loaded with two upgraded ship loaders with a capacity of 2,000 tons per hour each, thus increasing the total loading capacity from 9,000 tons per hour to 16,000 tons per hour.

In order to accommodate the larger ships, the draft at the port must be increased as well. Dredging operations at the berths and the channel leading to the port are scheduled to begin later this year as part of the overall plan.

The total cost of this modernization program is estimated at R$ 1 billion and R$ 175 has already been allocated to start improving the infrastructure and conduct the dredging operations.