An essential study for the success of a port terminal project.

The choice of location for the installation of a port or terminal, referred to as “site selection”, is one of the most important decisions for the success of any project.

The more judicious the study of site selection, the greater the chances of project viability. The ideal place to build a port has, among other characteristics: adequate depth, shelter from waves and sea currents, good logistic access and proximity to areas with export and import demands. These particularities, besides directly influencing the cost of implementing the project, are a relevant factor in the definition of project viability and are directly related to the attractiveness of the port location.

In Brazil, the history of port construction began when we were a colony of Portugal. Therefore, it can to be imagined, that the best places have already been chosen. This reinforces, even more, the necessary care in choosing the location to build a new port facility.

The development of a single or multi-user port facility must start with a commercial or market feasibility study. This should show the requirements and opportunities for loading and offloading over time in a particular region, the potential product types and mix.

The study then goes on to define the types of ships and the frequencies that should be considered for the occupation of the terminal, and for a multi-user facility the mix of commodities and associated infrastructure. To do this, it must take into account the world fleet of ships, as well as the trends in the evolution of this fleet and associated markets.

Once the commercial viability of the new project has been established the next step is to determine the construction of the facility. To do this a trade-off study should be carried out to establish what type of facility is most suitable; a near shore facility, or offshore facility accessed by a trestle, is dredging required, is a breakwater required to shelter the berth, are support facilities like a tug harbour required, or support vessel or barge berths. The trade-off studies allow a quantitative approach to assessing the optimal general arrangement of the facility. Once this is established the cost and development schedule can be produced.

From the logistics point of view, attention should be paid to the distances and quality of access to the future port by road, rail, pipeline, conveyor or a combination of these. In addition, it is essential to identify the availability of on-shore area for terminal construction, product storage and future expansions. Computer simulations can assist with defining the logistics solution.

To conclude, an environmental impact study could guide the difficulties in licensing the project, and identify the actions needed to mitigate those impacts.

At Ausenco, we have the technical knowledge to assist our clients, to consider all known and potential requirements for the master plan definition optimized for the project, including expansion scenario planning, dynamic simulations, onshore and offshore data analysis and real (or actual) solutions in bulk handling.