By Andrew Willis, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The state of Rio de Janeiro is set to gain four new ports, with investments expected to reach roughly R$9 billion (US$4.5 billion). The moves are part of the Brazilian government’s wider plan to overhaul the country’s creaking port infrastructure, which also sparked dockworkers holding strikes last week over fears that the reforms could bring about job cuts.
Macaé, Maricá, Arraial do Cabo and the city of Rio de Janeiro will host the new ports, with the large reserves of oil discovered in Brazil’s offshore pre-salt region a key factor behind the planned developments.
The granting of environmental licenses for the projects is already at an advanced stage, and the four ports are scheduled to open in 2015 and 2016.
Concerns remain however, especially regarding Arraial do Cabo, a protected area 150 kilometers east of Rio de Janeiro city that includes some of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches.
Works on the Arraial do Cabo port, known as Porto do Forno, will be carried out under a partnership between Triunfo Logística and FB Operação Portuária. At present, the Porto do Forno is practically unusable but in December Triumph made a deal with a local operator to resume commercial operations at the site for a duration of sixty months.
Since then, a first contract valued at R$2 million has been won, under which the port will berth and carry out maintenance works on a Petrobras oil platform. The group hopes to expand its operations to up to sixty berths per month.
“We will create a port for the offshore [area], and we plan to have a fuel supply station for other vessels here. We want to create a type of ‘Posto BR’ [fuel station] for the sub-salt [sector],” said Bruno Oliveira e Sá, development director with Triunfo, according to the O Globo newspaper.
Industry officials working on the Maricá port expect its environmental permit to be approved quickly. Maricá is located roughly 55 kilometers east of Rio de Janeiro city.
The project has a budget of R$5.4 billion, with its proximity to Comperj, a large petrochemical complex run by Petrobras, one of its main attributes.
In Macaé, 200 kilometers northeast of Rio de Janeiro city, the R$2 billion port project is being developed by Queiroz Galvão and is moving forward swiftly. The port will be located out to sea, 2.5 kilometers from the coast, connected to the neighborhood of Barreto by a bridge.
Brazil’s pre-salt oil reserves are also injecting life into the port in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Under discussion since 2008, the construction of an island port in front of the existing terminals is likely to become a reality soon. With a budget of R$1.5 billion, the project plans to use the Pombeba and Santa Bárbara islands.
In December last year the Brazilian government announced its long-awaited investment program for the country’s ports, with total investment of R$54.2 billion planned. The private sector is to play a major role, while dockworkers continue to threaten strike action for fear jobs and wages may be cut as a result of the competition.