Maersk and MSC Get Agreement to Expand Brazilian Terminal in Santos

Santos, Brazil
The joint terminal operated by Maersk and MSC will be expanded to address port efficiency now that the company won a new conession from Brazil (Port Authority of Santos)

Published Dec 22, 2023 2:13 PM by The Maritime Executive


Brazil’s Ministry of Ports and Airports together with Santos Port Authority have renewed concession for Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP) for 20 years after a more than two-year review. BTP is a joint venture between Maersk’s APM Terminals and MSC’s Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) and has been operating at the Port of Santos since 2013.

BTP submitted the proposal for the lease renewal in 2021 to the Santos Port Authority as part of Brazil’s move to privatize port operations. However, the process required a long review and faced opposition from other terminals that said the two carriers would unfairly dominate the port and Brazilian trade. The change in governments also brought a stop to much of the plan to sell off the ports to aid Brazil’s struggling economy. The decision to grant the renewal was endorsed early this month through a vote by the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU).

As part of the agreement extending the contract until 2047, BTP reports it plans to invest approximately $390 million in the container terminal over the coming years, with the amount expected to reach a total of $514 million by the time the project is completed. This represents one of the largest private investments in port infrastructure in Brazil in the last 10 years. 

According to BTP’s CEO Ricardo Arten, the company’s priority is to increase the operational capacity of the terminal by 40 percent. The companies had highlighted that the terminal is currently handling 1.5 million TEU annually, which is up to 95 of its capacity. They said it is negatively impacting the efficiency of the terminal and the port and at times vessels have been forced to divert due to congestion at the port.

“We will grow in efficiency and sustainability, with a lot of innovation and new electrified and more digital equipment,” said Arten. “With the increase, the handling capacity can reach 2.1 million TEU per year.”

The investment package for increased operational capacity includes acquiring a new fleet of electrified equipment, new maritime defenses for the dock, gate automation, and an extensive civil construction plan for building adjustments. 

“It is undeniable that the Port of Santos demands more capacity, with the potential to become a hub for Latin America,” said APM Terminals Vice President for the Americas, Leo Huisman. “With the renewal of BTP’s contract, we are convinced that Brazil will have more relevance and participation in international trade.”

Their plan calls for the quay’s capacity to be expanded with the purchase of four new and modern ship-to-shore cranes, bringing the total to 12 units. At the same time, yard capacity will be expanded, especially in the reefer area, increasing from the current 2,128 to about 3,500 refrigerated outlets. Additionally, 27 rubber tire gantry cranes and 46 terminal tractors will be acquired.