Ecuador - 2.5 Waterways Assessment


In general, there are no waterways of consistent size or volume to allow for any noticeable inland waterway navigation. Nonetheless, there is a connection leading all the way to Brazil, that allows navigation with barges that transport mainly oil industry and mining equipment.

The Manta Manaus Multimodal Corridor Project

The Manta-Manaus route is a multimodal corridor that combines maritime, air, land and river transport and whose projection is to link the Pacific and Atlantic oceans through Ecuador and Brazil. It is part of the project portfolio of the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure South American. This corridor is has become an emblematic project of the Ecuadorian State, mainly in charge of the Ministry Production, Employment and Competitiveness (MCPEC). The Manta-Manaus land route is approximately 578 km, while the waterway has been calculated at 861 km, from which 240 km cross the territory Ecuadorian along the Napo River.

In 2010, a funded study was conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) on the navigability of the Napo River in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian sections. The study part of which, to achieve the highest profitability of the logistics corridor, the river must be navigable at least 95% of the year, considering the four-feet draft barges fleet. In Ecuador a large number of baddies were identified steps and critical points since in this section the water level and the number of sand banks are often problematic for Brazilian vessels, with greater draft than the local ships.

To be able to navigate the Napo River in the Ecuadorian section, the consultants conclude that it would be necessary to dredge deeper than in the Peruvian section with dredging machinery operating for at least 6 months a year. It was verified that even considering the traffic of individual barges, if you wanted to respect the draft of 4 feet and with the margins or drafts of recommended safety, they should be dredged more of 60 km of river, that is practically 25 times more in length than in the Peruvian section and with much greater depths of cut given the low depths of the river in low water.

According to this consultancy, the dredging of the section Ecuadorian would be a very expensive operation and technically very complex. It would be necessary to interrupt the navigation in multiple points given the lack alternative channels, it would be environmentally very shocking (due to the enormous volumes that should be mobilized, surely greater than 15 million cubic meters per year) and therefore it would also be economically unsustainable, whatever the traffic of merchandise to be mobilized within the predictable margins.

Aerial view, section of the Napo River in the low Amazon Rain Forest basin

The Napo River begins at the foot of the volcano Cotopaxi, and the páramo of the National Park Llanganates, and is one of the tributaries of the Amazon river. With its length of 1,130 km, the first 463 km are within the Equator. The river has a high fluvial dynamics, it is very unpredictable and difficult to manage. The water level is not stable and would only be navigable from six to nine months per year.


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