NEW draft restrictions on containerships calling at Santos in Brazil, supported by warnings from pilots that shallow channels pose dangers to navigation, is hurting the bottom line of ocean liners and terminal operators and affecting their services.
For every 500 centimetres of draft lost, the 10,900-TEU CMA CGM Tigris, which was built for the east coast of South America market, must reduce its load by 1,458 TEU, according to Sindamar, the Santos ship agents association.
A manager at one of Santos's five box terminals told Newark's Journal of Commerce that since the end of last year the Santos pilots and their union, called Conapra, have been interpreting the official permitted drafts in a "way that they have never done before."
"And this is causing massive headaches for all concerned, shipowners, shippers and for us in the terminals," the terminal manager said. "What they have done is to reduce the official draft at high tide."
According to a senior executive of a global carrier with several services operating out of Brazil, all major shipping lines were "operating with severe and unnecessary draft restrictions" to the number of containers that their ships are being permitted to handle.
He said the restrictions relate to needed dredging at the port. "The tender process for more capital dredging just isn't moving fast enough. It is all so political in Santos and Brasilia right now and there are many opposing forces clashing with each other, so nothing gets done."
Santos pilots say that until the dredging of the port's channel and berth is completed vessel length should be restricted to 266 metres, putting the port off limits to the biggest ships, such as the CMA CGM Tigris, which has recently started calling Santos.
The tender process for capital dredging at Santos to 15 metres is underway, but even if that proceeds without any delays the new draft will not be completed until early next year, by which time carriers will see volumes cut unnecessarily.
Source : HKSG.