Anyone involved in the use of self-unloaders knows that high swells and big waves present huge challenges. That is one reason the Balder made history in October 2012, when it became the first self-unloader to offload a shipment in Ilo, Peru – notorious for its choppy water conditions.
The Balder took on a shipment of coal for Enersur SA on October 17th, 2012 in Puerto Bolivar, Colombia. It arrived at Ilo at the end of the month. Weather conditions were ideal and the offloading went smoothly. There was no spillage and the coal dust was controlled with water and surfactant. Balder then continued on to Patache, Chile to take on a load of salt destined for New York.
The idea of using a self-unloader at Ilo came about after much discussion with Enersur, which had lost its two dock cranes during a major earthquake in 2001. CSL Americas first contacted Enersur in early 2002 to offer self-unloaders, but the company was skeptical and, at first, opted for geared vessels. The fact that these types of vessels have to remain close to the dock in order for the ship’s cranes to reach the hopper, led to many difficulties. Self-unloaders, on the other hand, can keep a greater distance, but must be mindful of the movement of the boom under certain sea conditions.
This first self-unloading success at Ilo was well received by the customer and CSL is looking at ways to replicate it during winter months.
Next stop: Patache, Chile
The Balder’s salt loading at Patache was also successful and the average loading rate was significant, despite a delay due to a shore conveyor breakdown.
Patache is Compañía Minera Cordillera’s (CMC) salt exporting port, located 207 nautical miles south of Ilo. CMC exports about 600,000 tonnes of road salt a year from Patache during “normal” winters in the northern hemisphere, most of it to the East Coast of the United States. Each year, the port also receives 400,000 tonnes of coal for Chile’s largest electric company, Endesa.
Patache, like Ilo and most ports on the southern Pacific coast, experiences major swells, especially during winter months. Its particular orientation also accentuates the effect of the waves on loading or discharging ships.
The Ilo and Patache experiences were important ventures into a new market for CSL Americas’ self-unloaders. The lessons learned, and discussions with Enersur and CMC, will no doubt serve as a useful blueprint for future discussions with potential clients in this part of the world.