Container terminal development for the Port of Bahía Blanca

A research on the future container throughput in the Port of Bahía Blanca and the adaptation to the container terminal to these developments

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Bahía Blanca in Buenos Aires province is located 600 kilometres south of Buenos Aires city. The port complex of Bahía Blanca has the second largest throughput in Argentina considering tons, mainly attributed to the agro – and petrochemical industry. The port handles containers as well, however with an average of 30 thousand TEU/year this throughput is rather small. The authority of the Port of Bahía Blanca sees opportunities to increase container throughput in the port due to recent developments in the region. The container throughput is estimated for 2040, considering the petrochemical cluster and fruits. Four different trends show a container throughput of respectively 30, 155, 250 and 360 thousand TEU/year. The capacity of the container terminal is estimated at 50 thousand TEU/year, based on the equipment, the dwell time and the terminal area. The terminal should improve when throughput will increase. To start, number of calls and call size are assumed based on future throughput, decreasing the average dwell time for export containers. Additionally, a larger quantity and more advanced equipment is required to handle the increase in throughput. Lastly, the terminal area itself can be increased significantly from 8ha to 22ha in its maximum configuration. The increase in storage area allows the capacity to grow from 50 thousand TEU/year to 215 thousand TEU/year. It is important to realize that further expansion of the terminal is not possible and a new location has to be considered. A multi criteria analysis in combination with a financial analysis on the possible location showed that two out of four possible new locations are suitable for the development of a new container terminal. The new container terminal should have the capacity to handle the expected container throughput generated locally. The possibility to attract additional cargo to the port was researched as well, since the Port of Bahía Blanca has an advantageous depth compared to the Port of Buenos Aires. However, on the short term it is not expected that Bahía Blanca can profit from the draught limitations in Buenos Aires since port calling cost are almost the same, Buenos Aires is located conveniently and not operating at capacity and current shipping routes are not expected to change their routes majorly.