Santos Shipper Woes Mount As Fog Again Closes Harbor

Record fog is delaying shipments at South America’s busiest port of Santos, Brazil, adding to other woes shippers are coping with, including from customs slowdowns and a recurring labor dispute between terminal operators and dockworkers. The port began its second working week in a row closed as fog made navigation of the entrance channel too dangerous, according to the Directorate for Ports and Coasts. It is the third closure in nine days, which has forced 15 ships to delay berthing or skip calling Santos altogether. The Santos entrance channel was closed on Monday beginning at 2:45 a.m. EST and only reopened at 1:30 p.m. EST, delaying 11 ships, including four container ships, according to Codesp, the port authority for Santos.

The Santos conurbation has experienced some fog every day for an unprecedented 16 days, according to a local non-governmental organization called Amgios da Agua, which has been keeping meteorological records of the area for 22 years. The situation for shippers using Santos could be worse, however, as slowdowns and strikes threatened by dockworkers at five of the six terminals in the port did not materialize. The union, representing dockworkers, met last week to vote on a 48-hour strike for last Thursday and Friday but chose not to strike following the arrest of dockworkers at the Brasil Terminal Portuario terminal. Although the dockworkers seemed to have cooled down, shippers must still contend with regular, nationwide slowdowns by customs officials every Tuesday and Thursday.

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