A part of the exportable cargo that leaves Guayaquil goes by ‘feeder’ vessels to Buenaventura (Colombia) and Callao (Peru). These ships, which are small in front of the mega-ships that arrive at those ports, serve as transshipment. Upon arrival at the neighboring terminals, the cargo passes to Post Panamax Plus and New Panamax vessels.
For the draft levels they require, these ships do not usually enter Guayaquil, since they need 12 to 14.5 meters. The current draft of Guayaquil is 9.75 meters and with the dredging that runs and will be in eight months, it will increase to 12.5.
Javier Moreira, president of the Maritime Chamber of Ecuador, points out that with this project Guayaquil will recover part of the competitiveness that it had lost by having a limit with the draft, which prevented large ships from taking advantage of their capacity.
To the ports of Cotencon and the private ones have entered in the last two years large vessels as, for example, the CMA CGM Rodolphe, with capacity for 11,000 teus (measure of 20 feet containers), however, entered the TPG terminal with 4,500 for the limitations of the access draft.
Moreira, who is also the manager of the CMA CGM shipping company, points out that the new draft opens up the possibility of making better use of these larger ships, with direct services, and preventing the cargo from transshipping.
“Transit time will be optimized, and the effect of cargo handling will be reduced,” adds the businessman, speaking of the other benefits of dredging for Guayaquil, which will enter a little late to receive ships that are already navigating the south american west coast.
Fanny Mancilla, general manager of Delpac, which represents the Chinese line Cosco, says that the dredging propitiates, in the projection of the line, the increase of the useful capacity of the current ships and even the incorporation of ships of greater capacity.
The largest ship that they have entered so far in Guayaquil is the MN Maira XL, Liberian flag, built in 2015 with a capacity of 9,000 teus.
Mancilla says that once the dredging is ready, the user will be able to have shorter transits and guaranteed spaces for regular loads.
“The dredging of the access channel will improve the capacity of use of the ships that today, because of the limited draft, serve the port of Guayaquil, underutilizing its capacity.” Fanny Mancilla, general manager of Delpac
Within the shipping sector there are talks about routes that could be stimulated with this new draft. Xavier Game, manager of Citikold Group, agent of Seaboard Marine, believes that the routes that will benefit the most are the Asian ones since fully loaded ships will be able to make their first landfalls in Guayaquil on their route to the southern ports such as Callao or Valparaíso.
Seaboard ships of 27,000 tons could only eventually enter Ecuador on their southern trip to unload containers and machinery. Game notes that although they managed to reach the maximum draft of 9.75 meters to enter, they always had to adjust to the tides. But in the trips to the north they cannot enter because in the port of Callao the ship left with cargo in which it needed more than 10 meters of draft.
“This reduced our competitiveness and business opportunities. This is surely the problem that global shipping companies have on their route to the west coast of South America, “he says.
Although the navigable route of the access channel to Guayaquil will be deeper with the dredging, this draft will not reach the levels of other regional ports. And there, the new port of Posorja, which is expected to enter into operation in the second half with a draft of 16.5 meters, will play an important role.
Moreira explains that it will depend on the strategies of each shipping line and the competitive conditions generated to send certain vessels to one or the other port. A boat to enter Guayaquil will require 4 hours, while to get to Posorja, 30 minutes.
Bringing bigger boats will also depend on other factors. “The country needs an urgent program of export promotion, since it does not make sense for larger vessels to enter unless there is an increase in our exports, all the foreign trade progress must go hand in hand with this new reality,” says Game.
“There are boat services (10,000 teus) that have been serving Valparaíso, Callao, Buenaventura, Cartagena for almost two years and they are going to Europe, but they are omitted from Guayaquil (for the draft)”, Javier Moreira, president of the Maritime Chamber of Ecuador
Contecon prepares to receive ships of up to 13,000 teus
The Simón Bolívar terminal, concessioned to Contecon, is currently allowed to test under controlled conditions with ships of 337 meters long and 48 meters wide, with a nominal capacity of 10,000 tees.
Once ready the dredging and with the current infrastructure, Contencon refers that it could receive ships of 366 mt s of length and 49 meters of beam, considering the goal of a draft of 12.5 meters, and a nominal capacity of 13,000 teus
If the length (length from bow to stern) of the ship is related to the definition of the wharves usually managed by the Port Authority of Guayaquil, those ships would occupy two wharves (each wharf is defined at 185 m), explains Captain Javier Hrycaniuk, Director of Operations of Contecon.
The biggest ship that has ever entered Contecon is the Adrian Schulte. The ship, which arrived in 2018, is 304 meters long and 40 meters long. The nominal capacity of the ship is 7,200 teus (denomination given to 20-foot containers).
Contecon estimates that all routes would benefit, both those that cross the Panama Canal to go to the east coast of the US, Mediterranean, northern Europe, as well as those that do not use their services: western USA and the Far East.
Jan De Nul sees this year that larger ships enter the port
Two dredgers are already working and two more are to be integrated, twelve days before the start of the dredging work on the access channel to the port of Guayaquil.
That start leaves satisfied and optimistic Jan van den Driessche, regional manager of the company for South America of the Belgian firm Jan De Nul, in charge of the work.
Details: “Initially we worked on several sections of the channel with different equipment. On January 25 began the deepening of the section called Goals with a self-propelled cutting and suction dredge called Ibn Batutta, accompanied by two barges of 3,700 cubic meters, called Leeuw and Astrolabe. The dredge Ibn Batutta is a stationary dredger of great dimension, capable of working in the open sea, which makes it very appropriate to work in this very difficult place.”
As the rock to be dredged is very hard, this task will be carried out by means of the cutter system and then the dredge will deposit the material in the barges which will sail towards the authorized discharge area. “It is expected that the work in the area of Goals will end in two months.”
The manager adds that meanwhile the suction dredge in motion Pedro Alvares Cabral, of 14,000 cubic meters, in a few days will begin work in the entire area of the external channel. This will dredge the granular and loose bottoms to a depth of 11.85 meters and will navigate to the area authorized for unloading once your hold is filled. Last Friday, this boat docked at the Maritime Port, now ready.
“It is expected that the work in the Los Goles area will be completed in two months … With state-of-the-art equipment, we expect to complete the deepening work in less than a year.” Jan van den Driessche, director
The dredger Vitus Bering, of 7,000 cubic meters, already started with that, in order to remove the first layer of loose material. “Meanwhile we are waiting for the arrival of our dredge Francis Beaufort, who will also start work along the internal channel. Using these modern state-of-the-art equipment, we expect to complete the deepening work in less than a year, “says the executive. (I)