Port of Itaqui to build infrastructure driven by agricultural exports

Port of Itaqui in Brazil - vesseltracker.com

The Port of Itaqui, in Maranhão, will announce by the end of the year a R$500 million package of infrastructure investments for the next three years. The funds will come from the company’s cash, which, driven by grain exports from the region known as Matopiba (bordering the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia) – and through the transport of liquid bulk, is experiencing a boom in private-sector investments.

After completing the acquisition of logistics company CLI from the group that owns Coteminas, in a $240 million deal including debt and equity, private-equity fund IG4 has already started studies for the third phase of the grain terminal operated by company.

The investment is expected to reach R$600 million, and the new infrastructure should start operating in up to five years, expanding by 6 million tonnes the current capacity of 15 million tonnes. “It could be an investment in storage, or a new berth, or both,” said Marcos Pepe Bertoni, chief operating officer at CLI.

The port is expected to end this year with a 20% growth in the volume of transported cargo, surpassing last year’s record of 31 million tonnes, said Ted Lago, head of Port of Itaqui. The dry bulk segment, represented by grains from the Matopiba region, represents 63% of the volume. The region is a large producer of soy, corn and cotton.

The remaining shipments in Itaqui are basically fuel and fertilizers. “Even with the pandemic last year, there was a record. And in the year to September, we transported the same as in the full year 2020,” said Mr. Lago.

Between 2015 to 2021, the company that manages the port, the state-owned Emap, has invested R$400 million in infrastructure. The injection followed more than R$1.6 billion in private-sector contribution in terminals in the period.

The port’s new investment package, for the period from 2022 to 2024, should include a new berth (where ships dock), the structural recovery of the pier and modernization of the ferryboat terminals. With the investments, Itaqui is expected to reach the capacity to transport 40 million tonnes a year by 2025.

Excluding the R$600 million that could be injected by IG4 in the expansion of the grain terminal, the private sector is expected to invest further R$800 million. That includes four liquid terminals already auctioned, three of them operated by Santos Brasil.

In addition, with the expiration of the concession for a liquid bulk terminal run by Petrobras, a new auction should be held in the second half of next year. The new company that will take over the concession, which may again be transferred to Petrobras, is expected to invest around R$300 million.

According to estimates by National Supply Company (Conab), the cultivated area will reach 8.4 million hectares in the 2021/2022 season, 2.6% more in 2020/2021. Production should reach 28.2 million tonnes, up 3.8%.

The growth of agribusiness in the region projected for the coming years adds to the expected improvement in the supply conditions of the terminals. According to Mr. Lago, private-sector companies are envisioning the works of the railroad Ferrovia de Integração Centro-Oeste, better known as FICO, which is still in its initial phase. The project will connect the cities of Mara Rosa, Goiás, to Água Boa, Mato Grosso. Mr. Lago says that this branch will allow the transport of another 6 million to 8 million tonnes of cargo to Itaqui.

In the North region, the port of Itaqui is the only one directly connected to a railroad, to the Norte-Sul.

Source: Valor international