The first shipment of pulp from Uruguay's Botnia plant left Saturday from the port of Nueva Palmira with final destination Europe. Swift Arrow and the Botnia produced 19.000 tons are scheduled to call into two Brazilian ports to complete the cargo.
The vessel is expected in Holland on January 2, from where the cargo will be distributed to France, Germany and Finland, reported Botnia public affairs office. Since the pulp mill is located on the coast of the River Uruguay, which acts as a natural border with Argentina, production is transported along the river in giant barges to the deep water port of Nueva Palmira. Since it was the first pulp shipment, loading the 19.000 took 48 hours, which is above target time, but "we are confident that things will improve as we overcome difficulties and get the knack of it", said Alvaro San Pedro, manager of the shipping agency involved in the operations. A second shipment but of 30.000 tons of pulp is scheduled before the end of the year and final destination China. The Botnia plant when working at full capacity should be producing an estimated 3.000 tons per day, a million tons annually, making it one of the largest and most efficient in the world. The 185 meters long Bahamas flagged "Smith Arrow" has been specifically built for transportation of pulp bales that fit exactly into the hold. Botnia reported that in spite of the ongoing conflict with Argentine picketers, no special custody was needed to escort the vessel with the purpose of preventing any incidents. Finland's Botnia has invested 1.2 billion US dollars in the Fray Bentos plant which is disputed by neighboring Argentina that alleges she was not consulted by Uruguay on the utilization of water from the jointly managed River Uruguay. Argentine residents of Gualeguaychú across from Fray Bentos also question the environmental impact of the huge project.