SAAM Towage will add at least four new tugs to its Central American fleet in preparation for a surge in LNG imports to the region
Chile-headquartered SAAM Towage chief executive Felipe Rioja told Tug Technology & Business his company is purchasing tugs to support port and terminal projects in Mexico, Panamá and El Salvador. An azimuth stern drive (ASD) tug purchased from Damen Shipyards in Q4 2019 will begin operations later in Q1 2020 in Mexico.
“We are scheduled to receive an 85-tonne bollard pull ASD tugboat to our operations in Mexico,” said Mr Rioja. “Also, in Central America, we will increase our fleet with three new tugs with state-of-the-art technology, which will be focused on terminal services,” he explained.
“This includes SAAM Valparaíso, which will be added to our fleet in Panama and two vessels in El Salvador, where we will provide services from May 2021 for Energía del Pacífico (EDP)’s project at the Port of Acajutla.”
SAAM Towage purchased ASD tug newbuilding SAAM Huasteca from Damen Shipyards for ship handling operations in the port of Veracruz, Mexico. Damen will supply an ASD 2813 design tug with an overall length of 28 m. SAAM Huasteca will have a bollard pull of 85 tonnes and a top speed of 13 knots.
Sanmar Shipyards in Turkey is delivering SAAM Valparaíso, a 24.4-m ASD tug for ship manoeuvring in Panamá. It was built as Bogacay XXXI in 2018 to an adapted Robert Allan design, RAmparts 2400-SX, initially for Sanmar’s own fleet operating in Turkey.
SAAM Valparaiso will operate in the Colon and Manzanillo port areas in Panama as SAAM Towage enhances its ship support capabilities in the nation. It has a pair of Caterpillar CAT 3516C diesel engines, which generate a total of 4,200 kW of power driving two Kongsberg US 255 FP thrusters. This gives SAAM Valparaiso around 70 tonnes of bollard pull.
Two tugs will be ordered for new operations in El Salvador. These will be 32-m escort tugs with ASD propulsion to support LNG carriers berthing and undocking at a new LNG floating storage and regasification unit to be deployed at the Port of Acajutla. This will feed a 378-MW power plant from the end of 2021.
These escort tugs will be “specifically designed to meet the requirements of offshore operations and escorting vessels,” said Mr Rioja.
This investment comes as SAAM Towage took delivery of SAAM Itza from Turkish owner and shipbuilder Med Marine in January this year for operations in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.
Also in January 2020, SAAM Towage signed an agreement to purchase a 70% stake in Intertug Investment Holding from shareholders. This will expand its operations in South and Central America as Intertug operates a 25-vessel fleet that logs more than 18,000 manoeuvres a year. This generates around US$44M in towage service revenue annually.
After acquiring Intertug’s business, SAAM Towage will operate a fleet of more than 170 tugs in 11 countries.
“This partnership allows us to enter Colombia, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America,” said Mr Rioja. “And it reinforces our presence in Mexico and in Central America.”
Mr Rioja explains more about the company’s expansion plans and operations in the latest issue of Tug Technology & Business, published in March.