Dec 06, 2022

Hidrovias do Brazil Inaugurate Mega-Barges in Northern Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The Brazilian barging company Hidrovias do Brasil (Waterways of Brazil) inaugurated what is being called mega-barges, which will increase their capacity to transport grain to Brazil's "Northern Arc" of ports by 40%. Hidrovias do Brasil is Brazil's largest barge operator with operations on the Tapajos River and the Amazon River in northern Brazil and the Paraguay and Parana rivers in southern Brazil.

The new tows will have 35 barges, which is ten more than the current tows. They will be able to transport 70,000 tons of grain, which is the volume of a traditional Panamax vessel. The new tows will be 346 meters long and 75 meters wide. They will load at the Port of Itaituba on the Tapajos River, which is a tributary to the Amazon River, and discharge at the Port of Barcarena near the city of Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River (approximately 1,100 miles).

Hidrovias do Brasil is expanding their operations in anticipation of increasing grain exports from the state of Mato Grosso, which is Brazil's largest grain producing state. The Port of Itaituba is near the terminus of highway BR-163, which is known as the "Soybean Highway", and is the primary highway north out of the state of Mato Grosso. Eventually, a railroad is scheduled to be built from Mato Grosso to the same port, but completion of the railroad is years in the future.

The new tows will reduce the amount of fuel needed to move grain by 10% and will reduce carbon emissions. According to the vice-president, Hidrovias do Brasil, which started operations in 2016, has increased their volume per trip by 118% while at the same time reducing their costs by 58%.

There are other barging operations at the Port of Itaituba as more and more grain produced in central Brazil is transported to export facilities in northern Brazil instead of the traditional ports in southeastern Brazil.