July 15th 2021
Pilots and traffic in the River Plate
In view of the ongoing developing situation and different communications and instructions being issued by Sanitary Authorities of the Argentine Government we have chosen to send a consolidated daily report at the closing of working hours with an update of the day’s news.
ANTARES: We attach to this News a flyer with the full detail of all our staff for your ready reference. Both for our office in Buenos Aires and for San Lorenzo (Upriver).
National Holidays: Friday August 16th, San Martin Day.
Week end duty staff: (Friday noon, July 16th, until Monday, 0800 hrs, July 19th)
* HQ Buenos Aires:
Horacio Vazquez +54 9 11 5578 4554
Gaston Cabrera +54 9 11 5578 4556
Sebastián José Ferrara +54 9 11 3156 1679
Franco Gabriel Ostojic +54 9 11 6656 1678
Walter Nestor Travaglini +54 9 11 3156 1680
* San Nicolas:
German Andres Stoppo +54 9 11 6434 1673
We invite you all to visit our webpage which now includes a gallery of pictures and videos of the ports and berths Upriver which we trust will provide better guidance as where your vessel’s call. A PICTURE (AND A VIDEO) PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS.
River Parana Dredging and buoying. Hidrovia: The National Government will commence collecting the tolls on the River Plate and River Parana. The administrative change over is yet to be implemented from Hidrovia to the AGP (Administracion General de Puertos). In the meantime tolls will continue to be paid to Hidrovia as during the last 25 years. We will keep you posted.
The reported schedule is that there will soon be a call to tender for a “short” one year period to continue maintenance at presents levels and then later a “long” tender when improvements to upgrade the River will be required.
Other than that there is no further news. Much speculation and rumor about tariff changes is around, but so far this is merely speculative.
Labor situation: Labor unrest continues. Today, July 15th a short strike by stevedores in Bahia Blanca took place, but was quickly lifted. The reason for the strike was an internal conflict in the Stevedores Union.
Various Chambers of Commerce have issued communiqués asking for all parties to seek peaceful resolution before going on strike.
River Parana draft: The River Parana draft is not expected to improve over the coming three months. Water levels are dropping constantly in the Upper reaches and also Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The extended drought remains ongoing and relief is yet in sight.
Villa Constitución: The port of Villa Constitución is now regaining activity, due to the falling draft of the River Parana. Given that most vessels are having to complete cargoes at Necochea and Bahia Blanca the lower maximum sailing draft that affects this port, compared to other Upriver ports, is considered of less importance because vessels will have to complete at the sea ports anyway. There has been an increase in vessels calling there. Please consider that tugs are required to berth and unberth. These are usually paid for by Shippers and/or Charterers.
Necochea: A consultation has been made to berth a wood-chip carrier at Necochea to discharge fertilizers. The pilots have issued a report discouraging this. It is considered unsafe due to the high freeboard and the gear of these vessels that may come into contact with power lines that run along the southern shore of the port and also again because the high free board can make the vessel susceptible to S/SE winds and break free of her moorings.
Spare parts: The restriction placed by the Government on inbound flights is causing huge problems on the logistics for delivery of spare parts to vessels. With a cap of 600 passengers per day, the international flights in to Buenos Aires International Airport are down to 2 or 3 per day. Aircraft are using all cargo space for luggage and little space is left for cargo.
Maize. Argentina/Brazil: Markets report that a further 10 (ten) cargoes of Argentine Maize have been sold with destination Brazil. Approximately 40,000 tons each. Dates are not reported. Please consider that for all shipments up to and until 05 February 2022 these shipments will require a flag waiver to be shipped on non Argentine or Brazil flagged vessels. We will be more than glad to assist in obtaining these waivers.
Bunkers in Argentina: Given the low level of water in the River Paraná many vessels are completing loading at Necochea and Bahia Blanca. Due to this bunker requirements at Bahia Blanca are intense and forward booking is required since the single supplier there is Trafigura. Bunker demand at Zona Comun has slacked off because of the draft limitation and also because the Customs will not allow bunkers to be lifted prior to last port in Argentina. This is because they allege that bunkers sold at international export prices will be consumed for an “internal” voyage. A claim has been filed at Courts so that this be lifted by several suppliers.
Covid-19: The Government has further restricted the closure of borders in order to try and contain the entry of the new variants of Covid 19. As from Sunday June 27th only 600 passengers are allowed entry per day though the single nationwide entry port, Buenos Aires International Airport at Ezeiza.
Winter weather delays: Winter weather is now affecting services at Recalada, Necochea and Bahia Blanca. Recalada pilot services are closing frequently either due to storms and winds or due to fog at the pilot boarding area. Necochea has re-opened after being closed for 48 hours. Pilot service at Bahia Blanca is suspended frequently due to bad weather.
LNG Carriers: With present winter weather LNG carriers are calling more frequently at Belen de Escobar in order to inject natural gas into the network. These vessels are given priority by CoastGuard River Plate Traffic Control when both in and outbound. When these vessels navigate between Recalada and Escobar, on the Mitre Canal, traffic in the opposite direction is stopped for up to six hours. This may cause delays to vessels. It is expected that in some weeks this may occur up to three times a week.
Pilots and traffic in the River Plate: There is a shortage of personnel due to Covid-19 related issues (either being infected and under quarantine or detected as close contacts and therefore being isolated). Please bear in mind that delays are to be expected because of this. Another reason for delays is the traffic of LNG carriers which call at Escobar terminal. When these carriers are in or outbound the CoastGuard close traffic between Recalada and Escobar. With an expected 2 or 3 carriers every week delays must be considered.
Necochea and Bahia Blanca: Both Bahia Blanca and Necochea stevedores are demanding a 14 day quarantine for vessels calling at these ports. The 14 days are counted as from the day of departure from the last foreign port of call. This period to count even if the vessel has been granted Free Practique and called at another Argentine port. These are local issues and must be solved locally. Meetings with the unions have been held, but so far no agreement has been reached.
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU CHECK WITH US BEFORE FIXING VESSELS ORIGINATING FROM BRAZIL, CHILE AND URUGUAY.
Bahia Blanca dredging: At the moment two dredgers are working on the access canal of Bahia Blanca. This is maintenance work and navigation is not expected to be interrupted.
Crew changes prior arrival in Argentine ports:
The Sanitary Authority have become more strict on health checks for all vessels arriving within the 14 day quarantine period. They are taking special care with vessels that have changed crews in Brazil.
The following list of requirements are asked to be presented prior granting Free Practique:
-Maritime Declaration of health.
-Crew temperature log (every 12 hours).
-Imo crew list (with embarkation date).
-Traveler health declaration.
-Visitor’s log book for last 14 days or last port if more than 14 days of navigation. Including crew interaction with people ashore, giving the purpose of said interaction.
-Owner/Head Owner/Disponent Owner’s COVID-19 plan/protocol.
-Owner/Head Owner/Disponent Owner’s crew change protocol [in foreign countries].
-Owner’s note (with signature and stamp of the Captain and Owners company) clarifying that the crew change was carried out taking all due precautions, etc.
-Medical certificate issued by competent professional.
-Covid test for on signers at port of boarding.
-Sworn declaration of all joining crew including traceability of last 14 days prior boarding, referring to the following:
– Place of residence.
– Places they have visited in the last 14 days.
– Trips they have taken in the last 14 days.
– Type of transportation they have used to go to the airport.
– Layovers [place and time elapsed].
– If any crew member has had any COVID-19 symptom.
Puerto Madryn: Vessels and off shore rigs are using Puerto Madryn’s sheltered anchorage to perform maintenance, hull inspection and lay-up off this central Patagonia port. The port has adequate support facilities. (42°46′S 65°3′W).
Asian Gypsy Moth Inspections in Argentina: Same as is happening in many other countries Argentina has started implementation of inspections on all vessels coming from Far East Pacific ports on account of Asian Gypsy Moth. The inspections are being performed by SENASA (National Animal and Vegetable Health Service). All vessels that have called at ports in China, Koreas, Japan and Far East Russia within the last 24 months (2 years) will have to be reported by Attending Agents to SENASA. If the vessel has called at these ports between April and October she will be inspected. If, during the inspection the vessel is found to be affected by AGM she will need to be fumigated by a certified company. Until this procedure is performed the vessel will not be allowed to sail by the CoastGuard. Inspections are usually performed while vessel is alongside and in daylight hours.
Oil Spill Response at Zona Comun: Once again a group of people are pressuring Owners to take coverage for Oil Spill Response on vessels taking bunkers at Zona Comun. The bunker suppliers and the bunker barge Owners were able to prove to the local CoastGuard Station (PNA La Plata) that present arrangements in place were satisfactory. We draw your attention to this so that bunker suppliers absorb any related expense within the sales contract.
Crew changes Argentina: The borders remain closed and crew changes are not permitted. Limited internal flights are functioning again. These restrictive practices are causing problems to vessels calling in Argentina and undue inconveniences to the crews. Local entities and associations are pressuring for resumption of this “normal” activity.
Crew changes Uruguay: On and Off signing crew are allowed entry into the country under very strict restrictions. On signers must have a prior negative Covid 19 test 72 hours prior being allowed entry. Crew members boarding are not allowed to stop at any stage between landing at the airport (Montevideo) and boarding the vessel. Once onboard the vessel they must comply with a 14 day quarantine onboard before being allowed to work. Departing crew must proceed directly from the vessel to the airport. Considering that there are at the moment few international flights these requirements make it very difficult for crew members to enter or leave the country. Additionally to this before a boarding crew member is allowed permit of entry the agreement of Sanitary Authority, Immigration and CoastGuard must be obtained.
The best way of achieving a successful crew change at Uruguay is to have the vessel do this OUTBOUND at Recalada/Montevideo anchorage when the vessel’s schedule is not bound so much by weather and port congestions.
Crew changes Chile: Chilean colleagues have supplied us with the following detail to proceed for crew changes in Chile:
Kindly note a protocol has been issued to allow crew changes while our borders are still closed for non Chilean citizens, here you will find requiring points to be complied with:
Authorities are allowing for crew members to disembark and take their flights from Chile to their final destinations with following conditions:
• Providing all information about the intended disembarking to the Health, Maritime, Migration Authorities via Agency at least 72 hours in advance including names, citizenship, passport number, name of vessel, and full repatriation flight schedule (attached file with data requested).
• Completing a 14 days quarantine period on board in good health condition since the vessel sailed from the last foreign port prior to disembarking in Chile.
• Submitting the on-line affidavit for travelers to prevent Coronavirus diseases (attached).
• Not presenting any symptoms of COVID19 (Health Service may order a health check at any time)
• Moving directly from the disembarking port to the airport or designated sanitary residence (in case 14 days of quarantine not completed). Max. period permitted in the hotel is 5 days.
• Wearing personal health protection items such as face mask, face shield, gloves and hand sanitizer while in our country.
We need to send to Ministry of Transport a few points (attached file with data requested).
Once received and double checked, they will send the approval to Consulate where joiner will come from.
The crew member must going personally to the respective Consulate, for taking a picture, fingerprint.
If all going well, the consulate will notify to Immigration, Health Service and sanitary borders, that crew member can travel and get in to Chilean territory.
Along with this a safe-conduct document will be provided. This document will be mandatory and must be presented on arrival to Chile.
IMPORTANT: Only crew members who does not require Chilean visa to come to Chile can apply to safe-conduct.
Once arrived to Chile.
At any time, must wear facial mask and carry own protective items for COVID-19
Immigration would check that all documents are in order, if so, will be provided the SHORE PASS (crew member immigration card).
The Health Inspector will make an evaluation of crew health, if do not have any symptom of COVID 19, her entry will be granted.
In case to have any symptom or to result positive in the preliminary Covid test, would be isolated and the entry would be denied.
Transportation from International airport to the port must be exclusive. So, domestic flights are not permitted and either intercity buses service (commercial).
Also important for both, on signers and off signers, is to have tentative flight schedule (complete route), this is necessary to start formalities with authorities.
We estimate about 5-7 business days to complete formalities.
Will keep you posted.
Antares Servicios Maritimos S.A.
For more information