Solid start at Moin… Costa Rica’s Caribbean port

2015 February: Costa Rica, the world’s largest exporter of fresh pineapple, is advancing its multi-faceted programme to develop and modernise its logistics infrastructure and container handling capabilities in the years ahead. Its flagship project in this initiative, the development of the Container Terminal of Moin, has begun.

UNCTAD’s figures show Costa Rica, the fourth largest pineapple producer, with about 9% of commercially farmed pineapple on the planet, well ahead of other exporters throughout the first decade of the current century. In 2010, for example, about 1.7 million metric tonnes of the sweet tropical fruit crossed the country’s dock, seven times more than (Belgium) its closest listed competitor. [Major Pineapple Exporters 2008-2010 (FAOSTAT/COMTRADE)]

Costa Rica’s exports have been growing at an average of 8.5% over the past 10 years. The government therefore decided that, for the country to maintain this steady growth trend in international commerce, the logistics infrastructure and port complex on the Caribbean coast had to be modernised. So, half-way through the first decade, the government of Costa Rica and the Board of Port Administration and Economic Development of the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica (also known as ‘the Caribbean port authority’ or, by its Spanish acronym JAPDEVA) contracted a study to be used for planning development. The study was to determine the needs and national opportunities for improving the logistics infrastructure leading to the Caribbean port complex, which handles 80% of the country’s imports and exports.

Among the decisions taken at the time was the construction of the Container Terminal of Moin, a specialized marine terminal, with world-class technology and high quality standards and procedures to facilitate and improve competitiveness in the global market-place. Since then, phased implementation has been proceeding. Other projects include upgrading of roads, rail, airport facilities, the cruise terminal and marina.

In 2011 APM Terminals won a 33-year concession to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the new Container Terminal of Moin (TCM, the Spanish acronym) off the coast of the province of Limon. Since then, the company has set about designing a terminal worthy of its own corporate philosophy of protecting the natural environment by minimising its ecological footprint. This of course facilitates a harmonious relationship with the Costa Rican government and its agencies. The country maintains very high environment protection standards. APM Terminals won approval for its innovative terminal design covering about 200 acres (80 hectares) 500 yards (457 metres) off the Moin coast.

The port developer ended 2014 with successful completion of all requirements and obtained an environmental and social impact license from the Costa Rica Environmental Protection Agency (SETENA). Two days later it obtained the ‘Construction Start Order’, from the National Concession Commission (CNC)  and immediately scheduled for a January 2015, the ground-breaking ceremony for the Container Terminal of Moin.

The port will be able to service new panamax container vessels with capacity of 13,500 teu. The first phase of the development is expected to be functional early in 2018, with six ship-to-shore cranes, 23 electric rubber tyre gantries (ERTGs), 650 metres of lateral berthing (with two berths), 3,024 reefer plugs, 14.5 metres depth alongside and a 16-metre depth access channel. The facility will have a breakwater on three sides and is expected to handle 1.3 million teu. When completed the TCM will feature an additional three ship-to-shore gantry cranes for a total of nine. It will be operating a total of 39 ERTGs. It will be protected by 2,430m breakwater and will have accessible 1,500m of linear berthing. On shore it will have 7,056 reefer plugs and will be capable of handling 2.7 million teu.

Construction of the first phase of the TCM is expected to engage more than 600 workers. Operations are scheduled to begin in 2018 with 400 managers and operators. Staff complement is expected to reach near 1,000 when the port development plans are fully implemented. By that time, the expected investment inflows to finance development and construction of warehouses, industrial parks, light assembly, office space and commercial parks as well as residential and hotel constructions should have materialised.

Commerce statistics source: PROCOMER