Van Oord Tapped to Design and Build Porto Central
A joint European-Brazilian venture signed an agreement with Van Oord last week for the design and construction of a new deepwater port in Espirito Santo, Brazil, to be called Porto Central.
The preliminary agreement between Port of Rotterdam, TPK Logistica and Van Oord covers a conceptual design for the port, but it also extends through to construction and port operations – a streamlined bidding process intended to get the project to completion quickly.
Port of Rotterdam and Van Oord have experience working together from the massive Maasvlakte 2 project in Rotterdam and several projects in the Port of Sohar, Oman. Van Oord also has recent experience in Brazil, including dredging in Santos and Rio de Janiero and a shallow-water gas pipeline between the Santos Basin and Cabiunas.
Porto Central has been in planning since at least 2013. It would have a depth of 82 feet, more than adequate for some of the largest vessels in the world, including VLCCs and Valemaxes; its location is 250 miles northeast of Rio de Janiero, and it is envisaged as a multipurpose port for containers, soybeans, crude oil, oil products, LNG, iron ore and general cargo. Its 5,000 acres of surface space and six miles of wharfage would allow the development of a wide variety of terminals. An additional 17,000 acres of surrounding land is designated for industrial development, and the state envisages a free trade zone for the port to encourage commerce.
Porto Central would also be well-placed for oil and gas development: it is adjacent to Brazil's energy-rich Campos basin, the northern half of the nation's pre-salt petroleum deposits. The port's developers have recently met with Royal Dutch Shell, which has a large presence in the Campos and has indicated plans to expand its portfolio in Brazil.
The port hopes that construction will start in 2017, contingent on successful negotiations with customers. Spokesman Jose Maria Novaes told O Globo that "trade negotiations with those potentially interested is what will define our work schedule after obtaining the necessary [government] licenses." He added that Brazil's current political and economic turbulence might slow the project, but will not prevent it. "The port is being done for 50 years from now, not four," he said.