Ecuador - 2.1 Ports Assessment


Every country on the west coast of South America except Ecuador has ports with draft of 15-16 metres, capable of handling fully laden 12,000-15,000 TEU vessels. This is despite the fact that Guayaquil is the second largest import-export port in South America after Santos, but has a draft of less than 10 metres plus a vessel length restriction of 305 metres.

Ecuador is a maritime country by nature. 90% of the commercial flow takes place by maritime transport, which makes its ports and maritime terminals an extremely important vector for the attraction and distribution of goods. Although the state port system in Ecuador is multipurpose, there is some specialization due to its infrastructure and organization, around different types of merchandise. 

Ecuador borders the Pacific Ocean and has three principal ports in:

Guayaquil: Specialized in the export of bananas and containerized cargo. 20% of imported cargo comes from Argentina, Brazil, USA and Mexico.

Manta:  with 92% of the port's activity based on imports. Bulks stand out (67% of the total mobilized cargo). The countries of origin or destination of the cargo mobilized from this port are the USA, Canada, Peru, Argentina and Colombia.

Esmeraldas:  Multipurpose port that handles five types of cargo: general; containerized, liquid, solid and self-propelled vehicles.  In 2020, cargo with the most important movement ratios were palm oil, containers and wire rod, with a participation in the total movement of 27%, 24% and 16% respectively.

Regarding the enabled port terminals, there are 11, notably Bananapuerto, Fertisa and Fertigran, all operating in Guayaquil. These three terminals encompass around 83% of the imports and exports of the total cargo moved in the eleven terminals. About 51% of imports and 92% of Exports carried out in authorized port terminals are carried out by containerized cargo.

The control of the load is carried out by means of a software called Terminal Management System which permanently verifies and provides complete information about the location and condition of the load. The standards of protection of the ports are certified according to the International Ship and Port Facility Protection Code through the Under Secretariat of Maritime Transport and Ports.

Port of Guayaquil

The 95-hectare port of Ecuador is the most relevant in the nation as it is responsible for 90% of the commercial flow that directly affects the national economy and the main port that connects with the capital city. Its strength is the purchase - sale of inputs, articles and chemical materials from foreign trade, its location is in the Gulf of Guayaquil, 50 nautical miles from the Pacific, making it an attractive port of Ecuador for investors. Although experts assure that it has possibilities of expansion it needs an improvement in its physical conditions because during low tide the ships take up to 6 hours to go out to the open sea.

Posorja Deepwater Port (Guayaquil Area)

The deep waters of Posorja Port is delegated by the Guayaquil Port Authority (APG) to the DP World Posorja Company. During the first operational year DP World Posorja has received 180 vessels. In addition, Neo-Panamax vessels have sailed for the first time in Ecuadorian waters at their maximum capacity, through the new access channel with characteristics that are 16.5 meters deep and 175 meters wide.

Main Characteristics

Terminal: 480 meter pier, 750,000 TEU annual capacity, 4 Quay Cranes, 15 RTG.

Access Road: A 20 km road that connects the terminal with the main motorway network, which will allow an expeditious, orderly and safe access route to the port.

Access Channel: A new and safer channel 16.5 m deep and 21 nautical miles long. The navigation channel will allow to occupy the maximum cargo capacity of Post Panamax type ships and larger ships that cross the Panama Canal, with a length of up to approximately 400m and a draft of 16m, with a cargo capacity of up to 15 thousand 40-foot containers .

Logistics area: Direct connectivity with the deep water port of Posorja. 100 hectares of land available.

Posorja Deep Water Port, Google Earth


Port of Manta

It is the best port in Ecuador in terms of infrastructure. It has 4 berths and 15 meters deep in the dock, allowing easy entry to maritime vessels. Its traffic is based on commercial vessels, fishing vessels and tourist cruises, because the port connects with the most important regions of Ecuador. The products that are unloaded are of any kind, from vehicles to bulk items in the 1,200 meters of the port. Although most are transfer, that is, they are like a stopover for transfer to other countries.


Source: Bianca Schröder,


Port of Esmeraldas

Source:  El Oficial, Puerto de Esmeraldas,

Its location in the Pacific Ocean in the north of Ecuador a few kilometers from Colombia allows it to easily load and unload supplies for the port city thanks to the maritime traffic of the neighboring country and other foreign connections. Unlike other ports, this one contains a closed circuit that offers merchants the possibility of better security and surveillance standards for companies that wish to store their containers.



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