SPOTLIGHT: Brazil's busiest port

Friday, November 25, 2016

Santos port, managed by São Paulo state port authority Codesp, has Brazil's highest container throughput and was third in Latin America last year, but volume is down in 2016.  

Container handling during the first nine months of the year was down 6.9% to 2.6mn TEUs compared to the same period last year. Imports fell 6.1% to 1.3mn TEUs, and exports dropped 7.6% to 1.3mn TEUs.

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Among the port's terminals, Santos Brasil led with 39% of containers handled, followed by Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP), with 36.9%; Embraport(18.6%); Libra (4.82%); Ecoporto (0.7%), and Rodrimar (0.0001%.

Overall tonnage handled at the port slipped 0.1% to 88.5Mt in the first nine months, with export tonnage rising 1.8% and imports falling 5%. The number of vessels that docked at the port was down 7.1% at 3,596.

According to Codesp president Alex Oliva, the decrease was expected due to last year's higher than normal activity, which was mostly affected by high demand for corn.

Santos Port (CREDIT: Codesp).

As of August 22, the port's largest container operator, Santos Brasil, has been listed on the Novo Mercado market of São Paulo stock exchange BM&FBovespa. While being listed opens up the company to more scrutiny over its operations, being in the Novo Mercado helps the company's image, as the market has the highest level of corporate governance of the local bourse.

Santos Brasil's flagship project is the Tecon Santos container terminal, which has the capacity to handle up to 2mn TEUs/y. Currently, the group has some 1.3bn reais in investments planned for the terminal.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Grupo Libra, through its port terminal operator Libra Terminais, is in a multi-million dollar dispute with Codesp over its container terminal operations at the port. Codesp alleges that the group is responsible for some 1.12bn reais in concession fees, but Libra claims the port authority has not complied with all the terms if their 1998 agreement.

The issue is being handled by the São Paulo chamber of commerce arbitration and mediation center (CAM/CCBC), with a ruling expected within two years. If found liable, Libra would have to pay up within five years.

Finally, another local company has been reportedly seeking a minority partner to help manage its terminal operations.  The company is port terminal operator and warehousing company EBT, and the operations is the Ageo and Ageo Norte bulk liquid terminals. The terminals, which are housed on a total area of 113,800m2, handle chemicals and petrochemicals. EBT's contract ends in 2041, and the company plans to invest 220mn reais at the facilities in the 2016-19.

Agea's bulk liquid tanks (CREDIT: Agea Terminais).


The commodity most handled in Brazil's public ports was soybean, which accounted for 19.4% of total commodities handled in the first half of 2014, the latest data used in the Climate Policy Initiative study released earlier this year.

It was followed by iron ore with 17.3% and fuels/mineral oils with 11.8%. For private port terminals, the top three were iron ore, fuels/mineral oils and bauxite, with 45.6%, 27.4% and 5.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the most the most expensive fees in the country - based on figures from waterways regulator Antaq - are in the south and southeast, led by Santos and then followed by Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina state's Itajaí port.

Fees at Pará state's Santarém port and Rio Grande do Sul state's Rio Grande port are considerably less. (See graph below.)

Vessel berthing rates at Brazil's main ports. (CREDIT: CPI using Antaq data).