Site Selection

Leonardo Guimarães

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

By Leonardo Guimarães, Corporate Manager Ports & Terminals, Ausenco

The choice of location for the installation of a port terminal, called site selection, is one of the most important decisions for the success of a port project.

The more judicious the study of site selection, the greater the chances of project viability. The ideal place to build a port, among other characteristics, has adequate depth, shelter for waves and sea currents, good logistic access conditions 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, that is, its capacity to attract loads.

In Brazil, the beginning of the construction of ports began when we were colony of Portugal. Therefore, it is to be imagined that the best places, to those who gather most of these characteristics, have already been chosen. This reinforces even more, the necessary care in choosing the place where there is intention to build a port.

For the development of the project, a commercial or market feasibility study is the starting point. It should show the needs and opportunities for boarding and disembarkation over time in a particular region, product types and respective capabilities.

The study then goes on to define the types of ships and the frequencies that should be considered in the occupation of the terminal, the so-called ship mix. To do this, it must take into account the world fleet of ships, as well as the trends of evolution of this fleet.

In this step, a trade-off study will be carried out to verify the cost of dredging. The construction of an access bridge. Once this is done, an offshore polling campaign will be needed to assist in decision making. The trade-off result is the definition of the optimal length of the bridge, based on the volume needed to be dredged. determine the depths required in the offshore area. If the depth or draft is not sufficient, a robust dredging and / or over fishing design is required.

If the site is not sheltered, the implementation of a breakwater is essential, as well as the elaboration of a constructability study. This study should also include analysis of the type of breakwater, constructive methodology, soil quality and the existence of rock deposits in the region that are capable of supporting the construction of a rock breakwater. From the logistic point of view, attention should be paid to the distances and quality of access to the future port, road, rail or pipeline. In addition, it is essential to identify the availability of on-shore area for terminal construction, product storage and future expansions. 

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.

To find out more about the care needed in developing a site selection, contact Leonardo Guimarães or see one of our experts at the Ausenco booth (H2 and L1) of the 2017 EXPOSIBRAM congress, held from September 18 to 21, 2017 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.