Argentina university study:  La Plata, Dock Sud able to support trade volumes in Greater Buenos Aires


A recent technical study by Argentina’s National Technological University (NTU) revealed that ports in La Plata and Dock Sud can fully support container volumes and the flow of trade in the metropolitan areas of Greater Buenos Aires and Greater La Plata. 

The study, prepared by the NTU’s Technological Center for Transport, Traffic and Road Safety, is an important step towards realizing the potential of other ports serving the larger metropolitan areas within Buenos Aires with its analysis of each port’s competitive advantages, land and rail connectivity, operational capacity and connectivity. Currently, the country’s containerized cargo are primarily facilitated in the city’s main port located at the city center. 

Both terminals at La Plata and Dock Sud, operated by TecPlata S.A. and Exolgan S.A., respectively, can absorb approximately 86 percent (or 1.5 million TEUs) of Argentina’s total cargo volume (estimated at around 1.7 million TEUs), with the capacity to exceed more than 3.6 million TEUs over the next three years if planned investments for both terminals – around $361 million – starts today.

TecPlata affirms the study:  “The metropolitan areas of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, and La Plata, Buenos Aires Province’s capital, are geographically contiguous and the combined markets make Buenos Aires-La Plata an economic powerhouse,” says Bruno Porchietto, TecPlata CEO.

He adds:  “TecPlata can serve the Buenos Aires-La Plata markets and help improve the maritime logistics in Argentina. While TecPlata is at the center of a growing market, the terminal is outside urban congestion.  We see this study validating our view that Argentine logistics can be enhanced with the current infrastructure that are currently outside of the city proper but still within the greater metropolitan areas.” 

TecPlata is ready to invest more than $101.6 million and expand its capacity to up to 1.5 million TEUs – including the improvement of access roads and various terminal infrastructure – to help in modernizing Argentina’s port system. This is pending a decision by the Argentine government, should it resolve to close the current port. The move is aligned with most modern metropolitan cities in the world, which have located their commercial ports just outside the city’s boundaries but still within the greater metropolitan area for better efficiencies and advantages for their citizens.

According to the study, La Plata allows navigation of vessels of up to 337 meters in length  and 48.31 meters in beam. Maritime simulations commissioned by the TecPlata show that the terminal can host up to 360 m long vessels. 

TecPlata can likewise receive ships that require 45 feet of draft and longer length, which is almost 10 feet more than what the Port of Buenos Aires can handle. This follows an increase in size of modern container ships, and should Argentina’s main waterway in the River Plate be dredged to more than the current 34 feet.

TecPlata likewise enjoys excellent terrestrial connectivity with the rest of the country via road and rail. The report includes traffic simulation studies from 2018 which forecasts that there would be no congestion problems on roads leading to the port zone, estimated at 373,000 TEUs per year. This value can be increased to 623,000 TEUs per year if the port’s operational hours will be extended to a full day. 

Meanwhile, TecPlata’s connection to Buenos Aires’ broad gauge freight network through the Gral. Roca Line allows it to attain high efficiency while reducing transportation costs and traffic congestion across major roads.

Majority of Argentina’s volume is concentrated at the Port of Buenos Aires within the city’s Retiro ward, which is experiencing capacity and congestion issues.