Port of Mariel Cuba to be the largest industrial port in the Caribbean

News from Cuba | Tuesday, 19 July 2011

from the Havana Hournal

Mariel Cuba is about 28 miles west of Havana and is the largest port on the northern coast of Cuba, second only to the Port of Havana.

Currently the port is undergoing a massive expansion in association with the International Economic Association and the Brazilian company Odebrecht. Brazil is financing the entire project and so far $400 million in financing has been disbursed and $200 million of the promised $800 million has been approved.

The first stage of this massive port development project, expected to be completed in 2014, involves the construction of 700 meters of docks and will allow access for ships with drafts of up to nearly 40 feet.

At the same time, an integrated system of highway and railroad infrastructure is being built in Mariel along with the opening of a technical school that will offer training in several specialties related to the expanded port facilities. Before the Cuban revolution, the area was accessible by plane but the paved runway is now a storage area for cargo containers.

Cuban President Raul Castro and former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, toured the facilities under construction in June then watched this promotional video about the current and future development of Mariel.

When completed, the terminal will have an annual capacity of 850,000 to 1 million cargo containers, compared with Havana’s 350,000. The Mariel terminal, which will have an initial 700 meters (765 yards) of berth, is ideally situated to handle U.S. cargo when the American trade embargo is lifted.

Eventually, all industrial port facilities at the Port of Havana will be moved to Mariel so Havana harbor can accommodate cruise ships and recreational boating activity while the industrial land area near the Port of Havana can be redeveloped for tourist and eco-friendly uses.

Mariel is a “Special Economic Development Zone” in Cuba which, in addition to future port operations, will be the home for logistics facilities for offshore oil exploration, a container terminal, cargo storage facilities, a marine technical school, and an area for new sources of employment including light manufacturing. The port of Mariel is run by the Cuban military’s Zona de Desarrollo Integral de Mariel which is owned by Almacenes Universal S.A.

Singapore Port Operator Signs on to Manage Container Terminal

PSA International has signed an agreement to manage the Mariel container terminal currently under construction. The company is best known in the region for developing a major port in Panama on an abandoned US Navy base. PSA operates major terminals in more than a dozen countries.

This agreement is to manage the port and did not involve any investment in construction by the Chinese government or the Singaporean company.

No further details of the deal were available, but sources said PSA International would now actively participate in planning the Mariel terminal which is scheduled to open by 2014 when larger vessels will begin traversing the Panama Canal. The Panama canal is currently being expanded and the Port of Mariel is being developed with larger cargo ships in mind. Mariel will be a state of the art industrial port and will is being designed to be the largest industrial port in the Caribbean.

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