Roof revolution seen boosting Brazil’s rainy sugar port

A roof being built over a sugar terminal at Santos in Brazil is likely to be widely copied and transform the giant port’s productivity by allowing loading on the 100 days a year when rain threatens cargoes, a Brazilian shipping agent said.

Even a small amount of moisture can cause sugar to spoil and bulk loading has had to halt on rainy days.

Now Cosan, the world’s biggest sugar and ethanol producer, aims to have the roof in place by April 2014 over vessels at its terminal in Latin America’s largest port and this is expected to increase productivity by 40 percent.

“I am very positive that this roof will be, let’s say, ‘revolutionary’,” Glynne Williams, who heads the Williams shipping agency, told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Feb. 2-5 Kingsman Dubai sugar conference.

“I think that everybody is looking at this project to see how it goes and if it works well, I am sure that the company which is making this roof will be happy to find some other clients,” said Williams, whose agency has offices at all of Brazil’s main ports.

The roof will allow Rumo, Cosan’s logistics arm, to operate on rainy days, which average 100 per year in Santos and can coincide with the height of the sugar crop in Brazil, the world’s largest producer and exporter of the sweetener.

“The rain times sometimes come exactly at the time when there are the peaks of the crop, so this can sometimes delay one vessel for a week,” Williams said.

He did not identify the company building the roof, which will measure 120 metres by 240 metres by a height of 65 metres. Its deep foundation has already been finished.

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