The Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena S.A. (SPRC) is the port authority for the Port of Cartagena. The Port of Cartagena is Colombia's main container port and the third busiest port for transportation of grain. Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Port of Cartagena includes three open ports and over 40 private ports.
The Port of Cartagena's open ports include the SPRC container port, the El Bosque Docks, and the Container Terminal of Cartagena. The many private ports in the Port of Cartagena include the Cartagena Oil Refinery (REFICAR SA (Spanish) ), raw materials loading for Dow Chemicals and BASF Colombia, Dole's packing house, Argos and CEMEX (cement), DuPont, SABMiller (brewery), and the Colombian Navy Steelworks port.
The Port of Cartagena contains two entrances. The Cartagena entrance is 250 meters (820.2 feet) wide with a depth of 11.5 meters (37.7 feet). The Escombreras entrance is 420 meters (1378 feet) wide with a depth of 25 meters (82 feet). The Port of Cartagena has two water areas. Zone I includes basins for commercial traffic, fishing, and other activities. Covering a total of over 225 hectares, the Port of Cartagena's Zone I contains almost 218 hectares devoted to commercial traffic, 1.4 hectares for fishing, and an additional 6.2 hectares for other activities. Zone II is a 4778-hectare non-basin area of water surface for access, anchorage, and other activities.
The Port of Cartagena covers a total of 172.3 hectares of land area that includes 52.2 hectares of warehouses and 22.6 hectares of roadways. Inland transportation from the Port of Cartagena is dominated by river and road transport. The Port of Cartagena is 6.4 kilometers (four miles) from Colombia's highway system and ten kilometers (6.2 miles) from the Rafael Nunez International Airport (Spanish).
The Port of Cartagena's cargoes include the full range of commercial freight. Imports are dominated by machinery and specialized equipment, food products, cotton, toys, household appliances, and auto parts. Exports leaving the Port of Cartagena are dominated by coffee, nickel, synthetic resins, tobacco, and chemical products.
The Port of Cartagena hosts almost 1600 vessels each year, including 975 container ships, 220 cruise ships, 380 breakbulk carriers, and 11 bulk carriers. The Port of Cartagena's equipment includes two 52-ton post-Panamax gantry cranes, two 100-ton mobile gantry cranes, four rubber-tyred gantry cranes, three reach stackers, six top lifters, and 20 yard hustlers.
The Port of Cartagena contains 37.4 hectares of open container marshaling yards and maximum operative capacity for 12,150 TEUs of containerized cargo. The Port of Cartagena also has an additional 8.1 hectares for containers. The Port of Cartagena has five warehouses and a transit shed that cover a total of 2.8 hectares. The Port of Cartagena also has a 936-square-meter (ten-thousand-square-foot) covered shed for ore and bulk cargoes. The Port of Cartagena features 166 reefer outlets including 72 plugs with monitoring system in the main yard, 20 plugs are the Shed No. 2 station, and 24 plugs at the Shed No. 3 station.
The Port of Cartagena contains eight berths with total contiguous berthing distance of 418 meters (1371 feet) with alongside depths from 8.8 to 13.4 meters (29 to 44 feet). These berths can accommodate vessels to 300 meters (984.2 feet) in length.
In 2011, the Port of Cartagena handled over 2.4 million tons of cargo that included almost two million tons of liquid bulk, 374.1 thousand tons of solid bulk, 88.8 thousand tons of general cargo, 69.6 thousand tons of containerized cargo (5,785 TEUs), and 19.2 thousand tons of conventional cargo. The Port of Cartagena also served 5,031 passengers in 2011.
The Port of Cartagena's main container terminal is operated by Company Container Terminal Cartagena SA (CONTECAR). CONTECAR is the first terminal in the Caribbean region that can accommodate container vessels to 14 thousand DWT carrying to 12 thousand TEUs. Located in the Ceballos Mamonal Industrial Zone in the Cartagena Bay, the CONTECAR terminal handles containers, bulk solid, and general cargoes. This Port of Cartagena is equipped with six super-post-Panamax gantry cranes. In 2012, CONTECAR implemented Vehnet's Advance Marine Terminal (AMT) solution, a terminal operating system to manage the entire life cycle of vehicles using the terminal. The AMT system complements the existing systems for containers to enable the terminal to efficiently process its inventory of some 2500 cars.
The SPRC has operated the Manga Maritime Terminal in the Port of Cartagena since 1993. The Manga terminal has nine berths with total berthing distance of 1700 meters (5577 feet), and it can accommodate vessels with maximum draft of 13.1 meters (43 feet) carrying up to five thousand TEUs. The Port of Cartagena's Manga terminal is equipped with four ship-to-shore gantry cranes that include two 70-ton super-post-Panamax cranes, two 50-ton post-Panamax cranes, and two 100-ton mobile cranes.
The SPRC is planning major expansions of container-handling facilities in the Port of Cartagena that will focus on the CONTECAR terminal. SPRC operates a 44-hectare container yard with modern handling equipment and the latest information technology and positioning systems. The SPRC container yard in the Port of Cartagena has a fleet of 40-ton 21 rubber tyred gantry cranes, 14 reach stackers, nine empty container loaders, three top loaders, and a fleet of forklifts and terminal tractors and trailers.
The Netherland's VOPAK operates 84 terminals around the world with total storage capacity for over 30 million cubic meters. In the Port of Cartagena, Vopak Colombia SA operates an import/export/distribution terminal with one berth for vessels and one berth for barges. With alongside depth of 8.5 meters (27.9 feet), the Vopak Colombia terminal in the Port of Cartagena handles petroleum products, chemicals, vegetable oils, biofuels, oleo-chemicals, and bunkers. Services offered at this Port of Cartagena terminal include heating, weighing, nitrogen blanketing, and blending. The Vopak Colombia terminal has 26 steel storage tanks with total capacity for 26.3 thousand cubic meters of liquid cargo.
With increasing cruise traffic, the Port of Cartagena has a dedicated terminal for cruise vessels. The Port of Cartagena cruise terminal is less than 3.2 kilometers (two miles) from the historic city center and eight kilometers (five miles) from the Rafael Nunez International Airport. The Port of Cartagena Cruise terminal is located in the outer Marina area near the Yacht Club where it is close to the city center. With eight berths and four mooring dolphins, the cruise terminal can accommodate vessels to 300 meters (984.2 feet) in length with maximum draft of 12.5 meters (41 feet), and it has a three-thousand-square-meter (32.3-thousand-square-foot) esplanade.
Pilotage service is required for vessels entering and leaving the Port of Cartagena. The pilot station is about eight nautical miles from the Port of Cartagena's main berths. Three private companies handle all pilotage services for the Port of Cartagena: Pilcar, Colpimar, and Practicol.
Towing in the Port of Cartagena is required for all vessels over two thousand DWT. Towage services in and around the Port of Cartagena are handled by three private companies: Coremar, Remolcar, and Recar.
Mobil de Colombia provides bunkering services and supplies in the Port of Cartagena and in Cartagena Bay.
The Port of Cartagena has implemented a state-of-the-art software tool, SPRCOnline, to simplify port procedures including customs and logistics. The new web-based system allows information exchange and document processing without the need for physical documents. It provides complete real-time information on cargo movements and processes that customers, shippers and shipping agents, customs brokerage companies, and carriers can access 24 hours a day.