Cartagena, in the port ranking

In the annual ranking of Lloyd’s List, a specialized commercial information service, only one Colombian port group appears in the Top 100 of the largest container ports in the world: Grupo Puerto de Cartagena (GPC).

In the demanding and prestigious ranking of the 100 largest container ports in the world, there are only 9 in Latin America and the Caribbean; And for the pride of Cartagena, the only box for Colombia, number 60, is for the terminals of the Port of Cartagena Group, through Contecar and SPRC.

It is the One Hundred Ports 2020 ranking, prepared by Lloyd’s List, where these terminals rose five positions compared to the 2019 measurement, with a percentage growth of 8.9%.

This list, considered the elite of global port facilities, is headed by three Asian ports: Shanghai (China), Singapore (Singapore) and Ningbo-Zhaushan (China).

In Latin America and the Caribbean the best positioned are: Colón (Panama), position 42; Santos (Brazil), 43; Manzanillo (Mexico), 59; Cartagena (Colombia), 60; Balboa (Panama), 66; Callao (Peru), 83; San Antonio (Chile), 97; Guayaquil (Ecuador), 98 and Kingston (Jamaica), 99. Six variables take into account this ranking for their annual elaboration: “number of companies that do foreign trade, number of services that arrive at ports, direct connections without transshipment, number of calls per month, size of the ships and capacity of ships in number of containers ”.

Tan outstanding recognition deserved the reaction of Alfonso Salas, the manager of the Port of Cartagena Group who stated: “Since 2017, the Port of Cartagena is the port with the highest connectivity in the Caribbean and Latin America. This is of utmost importance because more than ever ports will have to guarantee the recovery of global supply chains after COVID-19 and the connectivity that ports offer will be a key factor (…) It is then how, through the development of a myriad of advantages, ports have created the scenarios so that the loads of exporters can reach the entire world in a competitive way and how our importers can create advantages through cheaper freight that derive from this connectivity ”.

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This is how it went to Cartagena

From the analysis of the 2020 edition of Lloyd’s List One Hundred Ports, it stands out that Cartagena had a yield of 2,995,031 TEU in 2019, a 8.9% increase compared to 2018 when they were mobilized: 2,749,723 TEU.

The balance of this top 100 specifies that “total TEUs grew by 2.5% in 2019 year-on-year, compared to 4.8% growth registered in 2018 and 6% growth registered in 2017,” says a publication by Lloyd’s List on its website.

Container production growth typically fragmented last year. With an increase of less than 3%, volumes in China were greatly reduced as the tit-for-tat ‘trade war’ with the economic powerhouse of the United States took its toll.

This accelerated the continuous movement of traffic to other production centers in Asia.

However, China’s dominant position in the port sector shows little sign of fading. Containerized trade moved through China accounted for almost 40% of total TEUs, the portal added.

It also stands out that “good results were recorded both in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean, where the average growth of the region’s ports was 6.3% and 6.6%, respectively.” For its part, volume growth in Northern Europe, North America, and Central and South America was low.

The Lloyd’s List report

In the review that the Lloyd’s List portal makes of the Puerto de Cartagena Group terminals, it is indicated:

  • Cartagena continued to expand thanks to the growing transshipment business, as its traffic grew 8.9% to almost 3 million TEUs in 2019.
  • Colombia’s largest container port benefited from changes in traffic and services in its region.
  • The need to serve larger vessels generated new shipping volumes and caused the cancellation of some direct services elsewhere in the region, to the benefit of Cartagena.
  • A former service from the South American Pacific to the east coast of the United States was canceled and part of that volume now serves Cartagena.
  • Hapag-Lloyd, CMA-CGM and ONE significantly increased their transshipment operations.
  • Meanwhile, Cartagena increased its container yard space from four to 68 hectares.
  • The improvements to the docks brought the number of ships that can serve 17,000 TEU vessels to four.
  • The port expanded its reefer container loading station and added 300 reefer sites, bringing its total complement to close to 4,000.
  • Its Contecar terminal invested in an automated optical character recognition door system, with six lanes in and out, among other investments.
  • Also on the port’s shopping list were several new Bromma spreaders, four reapilers and other equipment. It acquired two Kone-Gottwald post-panamax mobile cranes, to be delivered in late 2020.
  • The port invested $ 10 million last year to develop a 22,000-square-meter distribution center, which today serves as the hub for several firms, including Decathlon.
  • It also installed 6,000 solar panels to cover 10% of the energy needs of its terminals and continues to electrify its gantry cranes, the publication highlights.

2020 figures

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According to the figures of the Statistical Bulletin of Port Traffic in Colombia, First Semester of 2020, prepared by the Superintendency of Transportation, between January and June of this year 2,155,675 containers were mobilized through the different port areas of the country. Of this figure, the Cartagena Port Zone participated with 1,453,342 TEUs, which represented the 67.4% of the national total.

The two terminals of the Port of Cartagena Group reported the following behavior: Contecar with 1,026,616 TEU, a participation of 47.7% and a growth in the semester of 8.5%. For its part, the Cartagena Regional Port Company (SPRC) mobilized 390,509 TEU, with a participation of 18.1% and a variation of 21.3%. In summary, the two GPC terminals handled 1,417,125 containers in the first half of the year, equivalent to 65.73% of the national total. The remaining percentage of containers in the participation of the Cartagena Port Zone, that is, 1.67%, was contributed by the other terminals in the city.

TEU participation by port areas. First half of 2020 (Source: Supertransport)

  • Cartagena: 67 %
  • Buenaventura: 23 %
  • Santa Marta: 5%
  • Barranquilla: 3 %
  • Turbo: 2 %

Total: 2,155,675 TEU

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