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Itaipu promotes debate on Paraguay-Paraná waterway at the World Water Forum
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22/03/2018
Itaipu Binacional promoted a debate on a feasibility of the Paraguay-Paraná waterway on this Tuesday (20). The subject-matter was discussed at a parallel event of the World Water Forum, at the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Center in Brasilia.
 
The debate was attended by the Minister of Public Works and Communications of Paraguay, Ramón Jiménez Gaona Arellano, the Coordinating directors of Itaipu, Newton Luiz Kaminski (Brazil) and Pedro Domaniczky (Paraguay), the project manager of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Igor Souza Ribeiro, the Director of Waterway Infrastructure of the National Transportation Infrastructure Department of Brazil, Erick Moura de Medeiros, the representative of the National Company of Rhône (France), Marie Cécile Grisard and the representative of the Dutch company Witteveen-Bos, Polite Laboyrie.
 
Being 3.442 kilometers long (881 within Brazil), Paraguay-Paraná waterway has dimensions and characteristics similar to Mississippi-Missouri waterway in the United States. However, the North American waterway transports about 500 million tons in load as opposed to the South American that transports only 20 million tons/year.
 
The economy is one of the main advantages of the waterway modal: a convoy of 20 barges can carry 30 thousand tons with fuel consumption of 5 liters/ton/km. To transport the same cargo, 400 wagons would be necessary, with consumption of 85 liters/ton/km or 1,200 trucks at 218 liters/ton/km.
 
“Paraguay-Paraná waterway is a great development opportunity for five countries: Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia. With a relatively small investment, it is possible to create competitiveness gain for these countries worldwide, but it must be a coordinated investment”, stated the Minister of Public Works and Communications of Paraguay, Ramón Jimenez Gaona Arellano, adding that the modal is of great importance in the country: Paraguay owns the third largest fleet of barges in the world.
 
One of the important points to make the waterway feasible is the transfer of Itaipu dam, located on Paraná River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. Iguaçu Act (Ata do Iguaçu) of 1966, a document that precedes Treaty of Itaipu, has already provided for studies to be carried out on the construction of locks in the future.
 
In 2017, based on an agreement between the Brazilian and Paraguayan managements, Binacional decided to carry out an update of these studies, aiming at determining the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of the project. Director Newton Luiz Kaminski explained “There has been a relevant increase of cargo transported in the last decade, hence the need to update the information”. “Therefore, we are also using the reduced model of the dam (located in Paraguay) for studies of hydraulics”, co
 
The next steps, according to the director, are carrying out studies of nautical safety and design, seeking to take advantage of the topography to optimize costs. Witteveen-Bos is in charge of this analysis. The initial projections demonstrate that the right margin (the Paraguayan one) would be more suitable to house the system of locks.
 
“Only after all the studies have been completed shall we be able to project the costs and the financing model of the work. As it is a 120-meter unevenness, it will surely be the largest lock system in the world,” added Pedro Domaniczky.
 
“Rivers are fragile ecosystems”, said Marie Cécile of the National Company of Rhône. “But they can be a solution to the climate and environmental problems related to energy production, food security and mobility”.
 
For Igor de Souza Ribeiro, of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, feasibility studies should also consider how the waterway will be used in situations of water stress. “The energy sector has as its guidelines compliance with contracts, efficiency and a socio-environmental responsibility. If there is no water, it is necessary to generate energy with other sources. Similarly, a waterway must consider transportation alternatives for the drought periods”, he stated.