Venezuelan port industry gains competitive edge, 25th January 2012
The international port industry is experiencing vital changes due to increasing cargo demand from emerging economies, the expansion of the Panama Canal and the reorganizing of international commerce. As a response to the market’s outlook, the Venezuelan government recently signed an expansion contract for the Puerto Cabello facilities as well as to increase handling capacity at La Guaira Port. The Puerto Cabello project, valued at over US$2 billion, would be financed with Chinese capital in exchange for oil. Once the project is finished, the port will have an annual capacity of 700,000 containers while La Guardia, the country’s second largest container port, will handle 600,000 TEUs. This latter project, run by a Portuguese consortium, is expected to include Ship-to-Shore cranes. The development of Venezuela’s two main non petroleum export ports is a response to the changing demands for cargo handling on post-panamax ships due to the expansion of the Panama Canal. Despite the minor influence of the Canal’s expansion on ships departing form Venezuelan ports—only the vessels heading towards North America’s West Coast or the Far East would need to cross the isthmus—the intertwining relationship between ports and an increasing competition among them might have been the reason for the ambitious expansion projects that are underway in Venezuela. Cargo volume at Puerto Cabello decreased to under 800,000 TEU and it handled about 790,000 containers in 2010. With this new investment in technology the Venezuelan port industry will be as competitive as it was.