Chile port project urged to focus on logistics

Friday, October 3, 2014

Chile needs to build a new large-scale port to meet growing demand (4-5% annually), with emphasis placed on the complete logistics chain for the user more than on port infrastructure, according to BNamericas Intelligence Series latest report.

While there are ongoing investments in capacity both in San Antonio and in Valparaíso, it is estimated that given the growth of the economy and ongoing strong foreign trade, the region's port capacity will only be sufficient until 2018.

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Certain forecasts, however, show that demand at the ports of Valparaíso and San Antonio – which account for over 60% of the overall cargo moved by Chilean public ports – could increase five times over the next 20 years.

In 2012, Sebastián Piñera's administration commissioned feasibility studies and analyses on the amounts to be invested and the final location of a new megaport, to be built in the center of the country. The plan was stalled and seemed doomed to fade into memory, until President Bachelet brought it up again in May of this year.

Since the original announcement, competition has broken out between Valparaíso and San Antonio, which aims to triple the installed cargo handling capacity in the zone, currently estimated at 2.3mn TEUs.

"The location decision must be made from a logistical and political perspective, that is, considering what the cities' development projects are and what role the construction of a port can play in the logistics infrastructure, access, and connectivity, either via railway systems or distribution channels based on the project," said George Marshall, president of Chile's maritime and port chamber Camport.

"It's a tough decision, because most of what has been done are technical port studies rather than logistical studies. In our opinion, a decision process has to be defined, because the final location (of the PGE) will bring in the involvement of the city that hosts it," added the head of the union that represents shipping companies, maritime agencies and port operators in the country.