UPDATE 1-The latest headache at Latin America's largest port: dredging

martes 10 de junio de 2014 19:58 GYT

(Adds latest dredging work)

By Caroline Stauffer

SAO PAULO, June 10 (Reuters) - Brazil is struggling to keep the ship channel running through Latin America's largest port deep enough.

Dredging problems at the Port of Santos are preventing modern container ships from docking at some terminals, and Soybean cargoes leaving the world's top soy exporter must either leave partly full or wait until high tide to sail.

The stakes are high. About a quarter of Brazil's exports move through Santos and Sao Paulo, the country's most industrialized state, depends on the port for raw materials.

President Dilma Rousseff's government is hoping to improve Brazil's port efficiency with private investment but has not yet managed to award concessions to operate terminals or sign a new contract to dredge Santos.

Despite years of warnings and promises of government action, dredging has failed to keep up with surging port traffic over the past decade. Shallow channels and outdated docks have limited the use of a new generation of larger, more-efficient ships, allowing high transport costs to limit economic growth.

"The biggest ships aren't able to enter, or at least they aren't able to use their full capacity," said Paulo Barbosa, a harbor pilot who has guided ships into Santos for 20 years.

For exporters of soybeans and corn, the problem is most severe when ships dock, according to vegetable oils association Abiove, which represents agribusiness giants like Cargill and Bunge.   Continuación...