Buenaventura offers one multi-purpose terminal including a container terminal - Sociedad Portuaria Buenaventura (SPB) – a bulk and a container terminal located to the north (Aguadulce) of SPB and a container terminal east (TCBUEN) of SPB. The entrance channel faces constant sedimentation – different values were given for the draught restriction. Something like 9 m at low tide seems likely, a tidal range of approx. 4 m would permit vessels entering with up to 13 m draught at high tide. Prior to chartering a vessel present conditions must be verified with the pilots. Pilotage is compulsory for all ships of more than 200 tons and available on a 24-hour basis.
The pilot will board the vessel one mile from shore sea buoy #1; Approx. Duration of whole maneuver: 2 hours. The access channel to all three terminals has a length of 31.5 kilometers, equivalent to 17 nautical miles. It is recommended to take special care in navigation during transit of the inner bay, since it is common to find large trunks in the canal, which may hinder maneuvers. During the rainy season the visibility decreases, so is important to take a special care because there is a high traffic of fishermen.
Buenaventura handles the largest cargo volume of all Colombian ports. Most of the port services areprovided by private companies.
As road access might be an issue: Cargo movements through the Aguadulce terminal do not have to traverse the town of Buenaventura.
Port website: http://www.sprbun.com/
Key port information can also be found at: http://www.maritime-database.com/port.php?pid=3603
Port Location and Contact
Province or District
Valle del Cauca
Nearest Town or City with Distance from Port
Buenaventura (0 km)
Port's Complete Name
Sociedad Portuaria Regional De Buenaventura S.A.
Managing Company or Port Authority
Sociedad Portuaria Regional De Buenaventura S.A.
Management Contact Person
Juan Pablo Cepeda (Manager)
Nearest Airport and Airlines with Frequent
Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali.
American Airlines, TAME, KLM & United Airlines.
Description and Contacts of Key Companies
The following passages refer to Buenaventura’s multi-purpose terminal operated by Sociedad Portuaria Buenaventura (SPB).
In the SPB a container terminal, with a docking line of 1,050 m; equipped with six (6) gantry cranes, one terminal with reach stakers on post-Panamax ship to shore rails and three (3) multipurpose mobile cranes, with forklifts of different capacities for container movement with a 525 m berthing line; 2 multipurpose terminals, one with a 204 m berthing line equipped with 3 mobile cranes with the capacity to move up to 104 tons, and another multipurpose, for the handling of solid bulk (coal), liquid bulk and general cargo with a berthing line 190 m.
The two terminals Aguadulce (container, bulk) and TCBUEN (container) are described at the end of this chapter.
COMPAS: Grupo Argos and Southern Port Holding Corp. created on December 1, 2012 COMPAS S.A., the only network of multipurpose public ports in Colombia. With two port terminals in Cartagena, one in Buenaventura, one in Barranquilla, one in Tolú and two in Panama and Houston U.S.A. This terminal has a public operation, is located on the Island of Cascajal and has the possibility of accessing the Pacific railway corridor. It has the most efficient transfer machining system in the country, with 37,676 square meters of concession area, a draft of 10.5 meters of BW and a storage capacity of 47,200 tons. It specializes in the mobilization, efficient storage and dispatch of bulk solids, grains and by-products, while preserving their quality.
ALMAGRARIO: port operator with experience and track record for handling all types of cargo, bulk or general cargo. It is qualified as the port's primary operator, with a storage capacity of 32,000 tons in each silos plant. The unloading is done through suction, spoon and / or hopper methods. The port has 4 bulk docks, 48 silos and 28 mezzanines, a MIAG suction tower with two pumps, with a capacity of 200 tons / hour. It has two 80 ton truck scales each and two electronic step scales.
OPERCAR: Authorized port and logistics operator for cargo handling in the public and private ports of Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta and Buenaventura. It has a diversified portfolio of services for the handling of general cargo, iron products andsteel, containers, solid bulk, project cargo, rolling cargo, among others. Specialists in the management of oil and gas pipelines, including the supply of lifting equipment, specialized hooks (shoes), inspection tables and lumber for storage.
For more information please see this link: 4.4 Colombia Port and Waterways Company Contact List.
The main port of Buenaventura handles containers, bulk and general cargo on 14 berths - of which 12 are operated by Sociedad Portuaria Buenaventura (SPB) and 2 under concession (COMPAS). SPB’s dock has a length of 2,000 meters. The port shares its location with the city center on an island – connected to the mainland by one bridge (Puente el Piñal, 3 lanes in each direction) only.
The Port has a regulation for humanitarian aid where humanitarian cargo will have priority in the event of a declared national emergency.
April to May; October to November, although this can vary considerably.
Major Import Campaigns
Increased volumes of consumer goods during October and November.
Handling Figures for 2019
Container Traffic (TEUs)
Handling Figures Bulk and Break Bulk for 2019
Break bulk (MT)
Discharge Rates and Terminal Handling Charges
Type of Berth
Maximum Draft (m)
204 m and 190 m
Total 1050 m
Total 525 m
(Berths N°2 a N°8 for containers, N°10 a N°12 bulk, N°9 multicargo, N°14 liquid cargo , N°13 Under concession for Grupo Portuario S.A. y N°1 operated by Compass S.A.)
For further information on berths, please see the following link: http://www.sprbun.com/documentos/ventanas_de_atraque_en.pdf
General Cargo Handling Berths
Imports - Bagged Cargo
9 to 12
Exports - Bagged Cargo
9 to 12
Imports and Exports - RoRo
9 to 12
Cntrnrs 2 to 8
Port Handling Equipment
The private company or concessionaire manages the port concession granted by the government. The services offered are piloting, tugs, fuel, lubricants, supply of provisions, berthing. Boat services: repair of mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and cooling systems; Cargo handling (loading and unloading of ships), medical, dental and immigration services for ship crews, storage tanks, monitoring and control of containers for transshipment; consolidation and deconsolidation of LCL containers, solid waste and wastewater treatment, steel, containers, solid bulk, project cargo, rolling cargo, among others. Specialists in the management of oil and gas pipelines, including the supply of lifting equipment, specialized hooks (shoes), inspection tables and lumber for storage.
Total Quantity and Capacity Available
Comments on Current Condition and Actual Usage
2 (50 MT) and 2 (60 MT)
13 (40 to 62 MT)
3 Neo-Panamax and 10 Panamax, rail mounted
3 (100 & 104 MT)
Multipurpose mobile cranes
16 (40 & 30 MT)
RoRo Tugmaster (with Trailer)
Grain Elevator with Bagging Machines
4 (1 for 700 MT / hour, 2 for 300 MT / hour and 1 for 220 MT / hour)
22 (60 MT)
Rubber tire Gantry Cranes for yard handling
Forklifts with different capacities for containers handling
Berths 2 to 8 (Containers) Berth Line: 1050 meters length; Equipped with 13 Gantry cranes (STS), 3 of those Post Panamax and 3 multipurpose mobile cranes, 22 transtainer (RTG), reachstacker and forklifts with different capacities for containers handling. SPB has a specialized container terminal (Buenaventura SA - TECSA). The Post Panamax STS can move 35 Containers / Hour. According to SPB the container terminal was working at approx. 60 % of its capacity in 2018.
SPB container operations
20 ft / 40 ft
Container Facilities Available
440 meters long quay, allows berthing for 2 large vessels simultaneously or 1 Panamax vessel,
14 meters depth at low tide. Attend up to 260,000 TEUS per year.
Container Freight Station (CFS)
Weighing system (with dynamic scales), Load / unloads (Updated technology for full and for empty containers) Storage (safe areas), cargo inspection and cargo movement, operations on line (conditions and status of cargo). 19 hectares for storage with a capacity to store up to 8,000 TEUS (in 2018 a figure of 26,800 TEU was given by SPB) simultaneously. Capacity 768 TEUS, Sortie Container service.
Refrigerated Container Stations
Monitoring technical conditions, connection and disconnection of reefer containers to the electrical net, power supply (Electrical voltage is handled for the different types of containers)
Other Capacity Details
Daily Take Off Capacity
Number of Reefer Stations
Emergency Take-off Capacity
Off take Capacity of Gang Shift
DIAN is the main government customs entity in Colombia, when an import or export exceeds USD 1,000, use of a customs broker for this process is recommended.
Customs regulations per decree 2685 and Muisca regulations stipulate that:
- All cargo on board a vessel, with destination Colombia must be manifested.
- The manifest and bills of lading have to be registered to Customs systems (Muisca) 12 hours prior to ship's arrival.
- Cargo not covered by manifest may not be discharged. If discharged it will be immediately confiscated by Customs.
The processing by Customs may take 1-3 days maximum, depending on the level of inspection. In Colombia the customs authorities is the most influential institution in the process of nationalization, dustoms procedures can be affected by delays or technical problems by the DIAN system when making records, or documentary procedures unrealized by the importer / exporter. It is recommended to do constant cargo tracking and obey the instructions of the officials, as long as they are legal and fair.
DIAN have a special type of import procedure for emergencies, under this mode delivery to the end user may do without any prior processing.
For more information on Customs in Colombia, please refer to: 1.3 Colombia Customs Information.
Berth 9: (Multipurpose) Berthing line of 204 meters, Equipped with three multi-purpose mobile cranes with a capacity to handle 104 tons.
Berth14: Berthing line: 190 meters. Multipurpose terminal for handling bulk solids (Carbon), liquid bulk and general cargo, for handling coal stacking area is 4,500 m2 and 16,800 tons of weight.
The liquid bulk area is equipped with 14 independent and segregated lines for simultaneous pumping, with a modern fire extinguishing system and crane for handling all types of pipelines.
Grain and Bulk Handling
Grain elevator at SPB
Grain silos at SPB (outside port perimeter)
At berths 10 to 12 bulk cargo is handled by Almagrario. Equipped with mechanical and pneumatic bulk unloaders; Total efficiency: 1,520 tons per hour.
Equipment for bulk solids:
- Electro Hydraulic scoop; Capacity 35 m3, density of bulk material 0,8 Ton / m3, efficiency 450 Ton/hr. Dimensions: Open (Width 5.6 m x Length 4.72 m) Close (Width 4,44 mts x Length 4,72 mts).
- Dual gate hopper of 70m3. Discharging direct onto truck, or transfer to silos and / or storage warehouses at the port.
Main Storage Terminal
Service of provision of covered or open-air, warehousing space to store import, export, domestic or transit cargo within the port's facilities.
OPP Graneles S.A is operating a specialized warehouse for coffee (8,682 m2) and one for sugar (20,835 m2).
- Liquids Bulk Storage capacity: More than 230,000 cubic meters.
- Solids bulk warehousing capacity: More than 172,500 tons capacity in silos warehouses and covered areas.
- 20 Silos – Capacity 75000 MT
- 6 Warehouses – Capacity 50000 MT
- 2 Eco Warehouses – Capacity 5000 MT
- 48 Silos – Capacity 600 MT & 550 MT
- 26 Silos – Capacity 39000 MT
Number of Storage Facilities
1 (Warehouse) 2 (yards)
Warehouse (5515 m2) Yards (4200 m2)
At the terminal container
10 (Warehouse) and shed
Warehouse (69947) Shed (30235 m2).
Stevedoring operation is made by private companies, classified and regulated by the national government. The ratio and ranking of the operators is performed in accordance to the type of activities and services they provide to the terminals (cargo handling, pilotage, towage, dredging, port storage and other activities).
Land transporters arriving at the port of Buenaventura are offered the following services:
- Terrestrial Programming Center - CPT: It is an alternative by means of which a transport company requests the port by electronic means to load containers with imported loads, indicating the estimated date and time. Allows planning and scheduling of resources for trucks to enter the Maritime Terminal without waiting times, confirming the provision of the service also by electronic means.
- Scale service: For weighing loaded and empty trucks.
- Creation of A-check visits: Carried out by the Transport Companies for the entrance of the trucks to the Maritime Terminal.
- Container inspection: This activity is carried out on trucks that move full and empty containers.
- Operational equipment: Front lifts, reach staker and RTG for loading and unloading trucks.
- SISE: Integrated Electronic Security System for truck traceability.
Near the port can be found the free trade zone (Defined area of a country where it enjoys certain tax benefits, such as exemption from payment of import duties or certain taxes or regulation).
Current ISPS Level
Access control system
Implemented to warranty persons entering the Port are fully identified and to hinder unauthorized access. This control is performed by 62 biometric readers, 18 full body and half-body rotating stands, 23 security fences at vehicle access points, all controlled by a server housing detailed data on the port population.
Perimeter Control System
Implemented in order to prevent intruders access through the outside perimeters of the port facilities, the system consists of 4,800 meters of sensor cable controlled by 23 processors that interpret the signals received, and then transmit information to the control center. The center immediately complements intruder detection with the video equipment available in the zone to immediately alert security personnel and make this information available to them.
Closed Circuit TV
The purpose of the system is to monitor and record all Port operations and activities, it has 370 fixed and panning cameras distributed throughout the port and 21 digital recorders to store, security events 24 hours/day. The system includes special equipment for monitoring the internal navigation channel under any visibility condition and includes 75-day average recording time.
Armed security personnel
As a complement to the Integrated Electronic Security System, the Port has a team consisting of 265-armed security guards and 6 patrol units, by land and sea. They are fully equipped with the necessary devices to maintain communication between the different systems and personnel monitoring security.
Opposite the bay of Buenaventura the peninsula of Aguadulce features a jetty for dry bulk and container handling. The terminal was not assed in situ. An interesting aspect of Aguadulce is the access road that avoids Buenaventura city and Puente el Piñal.
Container terminal of ICTSI and PSA, Aguadulce Peninsula
The container terminal is operated by ICTSI and PSA, currently equipped with 4 Post Panamax rail mounted gantry cranes (RMG's) and about 10 rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTG's) for yard movements. Depth along the 1,200 m long jetty is given with 14.5 m (low tide). Satellite imagery shows 9,000 m2 paved container yard and a container freight station.
Dry Bulk Terminal
Bulk operator COMPAS claims (http://www.compas.com.co/en/terminals/aguadulce) offering the capacity of receiving vessels of up to 80,000 tons and a depth of 15 meters at low tide. Apart from mechanized export of coal the terminal counts with a grain elevator, a mobile port crane, 4 vertical silos with a capacity of 6.500 ton each and 2 additional warehouses of 2.300 sqm each. Total storage capacity is given as 25,200 tons.
Container Terminal TCBUEN
Container terminal TCBUEN of APM
The container terminal is operated by APM, equipped with 4 Post Panamax RMGs (rail mounted gantry cranes) and 13 RTGs (rubber-tired gantry cranes for yard movements). Depth along the 440 m long jetty is given with 14 m (low tide) the entrance channel leading to the jetty being dredged to 12.5 m. Satellite imagery shows 112,000 sqm. paved container yard and 5 warehouses. Shipping lines calling TCBUEN include APL, HAPAG-LLOYD, K-LINE, MAERSK, MOL, NYK and SEALAND. The terminal is situated east of Buenaventura city centre, access avoids the possible bottleneck Puente el Piñal.
In the national context, the Bay of Buenaventura maintained leadership in the second half of 2019 with a 42% share in the total mobilization of tons with respect to the other ports in the country. Regarding the Buenaventura Regional Port Society, within the port node where it is located, its participation corresponds to 54%.
SPRBUN continues to lead the participation in container loading in Buenaventura Bay with a mobilization of 170,696 Teus, out of a total of 389,630 Teus mobilized in the Buenaventura port node. The loss of international transshipment cargo is noteworthy, as a result of differential conditions in the depth of the access channel to the Bay of Buenaventura, which came to be managed by the Posorja Terminal in Ecuador.
Information Technology Management
During the second semester of 2019, the Regional Port Society of Buenaventura, through its Information Technology Management, continued the strategic plan for digital transformation through innovative technological solutions, ensuring business continuity, management and security of IT services for its users and clients.