As a result of the Covid crisis, there are fears that all Chilean ports may become only feeder ports. San Antonio has been Chile's leading port for containers for several years, with full capacity expected to be reached by 2025.
The potential for full capacity is largely why Empresa Portuaria San Antonio (EPSA) and the government are eager to add six million TEU capacity to Chile's box needs.
The new $1.2 billion breakwater that goes with it will also help protect the Region V port, where boxes are currently managed by DP World San Antonio (Puerto Central) and San Antonio Terminal International.
Ports along the Chilean coast regularly hindered by violent Pacific waves that have always caused intermittent problems for vessels berthing.
For example, over the last ten years, the eight biggest ports in Chile have suffered 18,000 hours of closure, with San Antonio seeing 54 closures during 2020.
'According to projections made by the scientific teams that guided Arclim, the port of San Antonio is at greatest risk of suffering from the storms and waves in the medium and long term, but measures can be taken to reduce that risk,' said Chilean Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt.
Asonave president Simon MacKenzie also agreed with Carolina Schmidt.
'In recent years it has become a major problem along the entire coastline, but especially in San Antonio. Over the past year we even had a few car carriers and other vessels diverting from San Antonio to Valparaiso. They had been waiting several days, some of them more than a week, for the waves to reduce so they could take their slot in San Antonio but gave up in the end. We desperately need some solutions to this problem and the new breakwater could be at least part of the answer,' said Mr MacKenzie.