Philippine investments in Argentine ports

Buenos Aires province inaugurates Tecplata container terminal. Tecplata is wholly owned by ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services, Inc.), from the Philippines.

The province of Buenos Aires on Tuesday formally inaugurated the $450 million-dollar first stage of the Tecplata container terminal of the port of La Plata, the provincial capital city, Argentina’s largest port investment in half a century.

The inauguration was headed by Daniel Scioli, the Peronist province governor seeking to succeed fellow-Peronist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2015.

Tecplata is wholly owned by ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services, Inc.), from the Philippines.

The facilities also include four Chinese-made state-of-the-art portico cranes worth US$10 million each, and nine RPGs or trastainers, also made in China, worth US$1.5 million each.

The local company Industrias Metalúrgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anónima (IMPSA) used to manufacture portico cranes and Tecplata contacted it when it need to buy the four cranes. By that time, however, IMPSA had ceased to manufacture them, Zabalza said.

Tecplata has a capacity to handle 450,000 TEUs a year but its inauguration comes at a time when container trade in Argentina — handled by the Buenos Aires port terminals and the Dock Sud Exolgán terminal — has fallen sharply from 1.85 million TEUs in 2008 to 1.38-1.4 million TEUs now, due to a combination of the global crisis with local export and import restrictions and a steep decline in the local economy.

“The fall has been very steep. I think that it has exceeded the projection of all operators,” Zabalza said. He added that Tecplata is in talks with ship-owners, but so far, he said, no contract has been secured. However, he added, “Argentine trade has historically recovered quickly and we expect to clinch an accord sometime in 2015.

“We are optimistic. We have always considered this to be a medium- to long-term investment. We have a 30-year concession and we trust Tecplata’s strengths: location, infrastructure, equipment, systems and staff.”

“These US$450 million in foreign investment are here to stay. Come what may, the port of La Plata has now its container terminal,” Zabalza said.

Tecplata is seeking to compete with other Argentine, Brazilian and Uruguayan terminals. It aimed to initially capture 20-25 percent of Argentina’s container trade.

The company plans a second stage expansion to handle 850,000 TEUs a year, “but we are talking about 2021 onwards.

“There will be some minor additional investments over the four or five coming years but capacity will be kept at 450,000 TEUs,” Zabalza said.

The authority of the port of La Plata — 37 kilometres from Buenos Aires by water — has deepened the access channel to 34 feet from 28 feet.

Zabalza said the dock has a depth of 36 feet.

An additional minor dredging, he said, will be conducted to remove sedimentation, when the terminal effectively starts operating.

The dredging works include the removal, over a year, of 5.5 million cubic metres of earth, also to widen the area of manoeuvres.


Date: December 29, 2014



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