Port of Sines has unveiled a direct maritime route to the northeast of Brazil, promising to significantly reduce shipping time between continents. Beyond mere logistics, this maritime connection aims to play a pivotal role in both Brazil’s green hydrogen ambitions and the impending EU-Mercosur trade agreement.
The establishment of this regular maritime route between Sines and Pecém, with no intermediate stops, marks a substantial leap forward in trade efficiency. Portuguese Consul in Fortaleza, Rui Almeida, underscores the geographical advantage, with Sines being the nearest European port to South America and Fortaleza emerging as the closest Brazilian city to Portugal and Europe.
Commercial Director of Complexo do Pecém, André Magalhães, elucidates that this route, currently in a testing phase, operates on a weekly schedule, ferrying cargo directly from Sines to the port of Pecém, catering predominantly to the northeast of Brazil, particularly Ceará.
Magalhães explains the logistical flow: “Lighten the load here, lighten the weight and go to Santos” in São Paulo, one of Latin America’s largest and most prominent port complexes. While currently in discussions for expansion, this route not only strengthens ties between Brazil and Europe but also brings Asia into closer proximity.
Crucially, this venture aligns with the energy goals of the Brazilian Government, focusing on the export of green hydrogen produced through water electrolysis, where water is separated into oxygen and hydrogen. Green hydrogen finds applications not only in fertilizer production for agriculture but also as a clean fuel and industrial raw material for pharmaceuticals.
The initiative to reduce dependence on Russian energy sources amid the Ukraine crisis underscores the strategic significance of such endeavors.
In May, the Port of Pecém initiated an agreement with the Netherlands for the transportation of green hydrogen between Pecém and Rotterdam, featuring the involvement of Portuguese company EDP.
Furthermore, the Brazilian Ministry of Development and Foreign Trade announced a $90 million financing, backed by the World Bank, for infrastructure projects essential to establish a green hydrogen hub within the seaport of Pecém.
Portugal’s EDP Group took a monumental step in December 2022 by producing Latin America’s first green hydrogen molecule in São Gonçalo do Amarante, Ceará.
The long-term vision includes commencing green hydrogen exports by 2027, with the port of Rotterdam serving as a hub for distribution across northwestern Europe, Belgium, and Germany via pipelines.
Port of Sines’ proximity positions it favorably as a gateway for Brazil to access European markets, particularly as the EU-Mercosur trade agreement nears its conclusion. Brazil currently holds the presidency of Mercosur, a trade bloc representing a quarter of the global economy and almost 10% of the world’s population.
However, as Consul Rui Almeida emphasizes, efficient rail infrastructure will be just as crucial as ports in realizing the full potential of this trade connection.
While challenges and complexities undoubtedly exist, the strategic maritime route between Sines and Pecém symbolizes a remarkable confluence of economic, environmental, and geopolitical interests, positioning both nations as key players in the evolving landscape of global trade and green energy.