According to the World Economic Forum (The Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017), Uruguay is the second country in South America with regard to port infrastructure. In Uruguay, there are 15 ports, 8 of which are commercial ports, located in several areas of the country: Montevideo, Nueva Palmira, Colonia, Fray Bentos, Paysandú, Juan Lacaze and La Paloma, governed by a free port regime, and Salto.

The Port of Montevideo, located on the Rio de la Plata is geographically, one of the main routes for cargo mobilization in MERCOSUR. The Free Port regime has made it the first and only terminal on the Atlantic coast of South America with an attractive and competitive logistics scheme for the transit of goods. It is the main commercial port of the country, with an approximate annual mobilization of 10 million tons, 500,000 passengers (services between Buenos Aires and Montevideo) and 120 cruises. In the Port of Montevideo, the main access routes to the rest of the country and therefore to the region, converge.

The movement of goods in this port has evidenced a strong growth in the last years: in 2011 it reached a record of 11,298 thousand tons, with 10,535 thousand tons recorded in 2015. This growth was also reflected in the movement of containers and TEUs which, after reaching record levels in 2011 (861,164), remained at high levels in 2015 (811,297).

Table 1- Infrastructure of the Port of Montevideo

Port of Montevideo

Depth of Access channel (m) 12
Maximum Dock Depth (m) 14
Port Area (ha) 103
Complementary Area – Puntas de Sayago (ha) (in construction) 110
Length of piers in multipurpose ports and containers (m) 4.100
Container cranes 7

Source: INALOG based on data provided by National Port Administration (ANP in Spanish).

Chart 1- Movement of containers in the Port of Montevideo-Thousands of units











Source: INALOG based on data provided by National Port Administration (ANP in Spanish).

The Port of Nueva Palmira has two major advantages: its location at the end of the Paraná-Paraguay-Uruguay waterway and its customs and tax Free Port and Free Zone schemes. It is the second main port in the country with important transport of grains and cellulose and an annual movement of about 11 million tons.

Table 2- Infrastructure of the Nueva Palmira Port

Nueva Palmira Port

Depth of Martín García Access channel (m.) 9,75
Depth of Mitre Access channel (m.) 10,36
Length of ocean piers in multipurpose ports (m.) 810
Length of river piers in multipurpose ports (m.) 850
Multipurpose area – not including silos/warehouses (ha.) 3
Warehousing: storage capacity (ton.) 632.000

Located at the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, 270 km away from Montevideo and 110 km from Colonia by land, it mobilizes exports from Uruguay and others – such as cargo in transit from the center of the continent – especially from Paraguay, via the Paraná-Paraguay-Uruguay waterway.onautical Infrastructure.[2]


1Pier C: This commercial pier has a length of 380 meters with a maximum design draft of 14 m and also has a back-up esplanade of approximately 3.5 ha with its corresponding auxiliary facilities and a dock for vessel maneuvering.

It is aimed at meeting the existing demand and generating a new multi-purpose berth for state of the art vessels. The structure of the pier is suitable for operation of specialized equipment to handle the traffic of container ships, carriers and multipurpose vessels. There are fire service facilities, potable water supply, power connection, sanitation and grey water discharge.

New Access to the Port of Montevideo: It will allow for the strengthening of the port-city connection, separating traffic of cargo vehicles from those of urban mobility, through the construction of a motorway viaduct over the port promenade, avoiding traffic jams and reducing waiting times.

Specialized Terminal For Bulk Solids:

2This specialized terminal is located in a 7.5 ha plot located at the northern end of the port premises, is planned for the collection and shipment of wood chips with a stowage area for 7,000 t and has a silo plant with capacity of 120,000 t storage expandable up to 210,000 t for fully automated grain collection. It provides for the operation of two conveyor belts, three platforms with lifting towers with a loading capacity of 2,400t/hour, a berth for interoceanic Panamax ships with parallel alignment to the dam and 13.00mW draft, with four mooring Dolphins and other two also located on the side of the dam. It will also house a steel sheet piles dock suitable for semi-oceanic barges. The possibility of increasing bulk volumes mobilized in the port of Montevideo is visualized through Top Off operations[3].

The possibility of attracting more than 400,000 tons of soy production from the Paraná and Uruguay river basins has been identified.

These operations will allow for the generation of new traffic coming from the zone of influence of Argentine ports linked to the waterways of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers.


Fishing Terminal – Puerto Capurro:

3The objective is to transfer to the north side of the bay of Montevideo the fishing fleets that usually operate in Pier Mántaras.

A 2.5 hectare embankment was recently made for the establishment of a Fishing Terminal to replace the facilities within the current port. The obsolete buildings are being dismantled in the area adjacent to the promenade, in order to give them access and amplitude with the required parking lots. Furthermore, progress being is made in the study and authorization of feasibility and environmental impact assessment before the competent bodies.

Maritime access to this Terminal, which is planned for the operation of national and international fishing vessels, shares the channel with the La Teja Terminal.

An agreement was executed with a business consortium made up of Teyma, Chediak and Lavigne, for the construction of the Capurro Fishing Terminal, a specialized area for mooring fishing vessels.

The companies have nine months to adapt the project of the fishing terminal and then 30 months to complete the construction, with 2019 set as completion date.

Currently, a parking lot for trucks waiting to head to the port is provisionally operational, thus avoiding crowding and interruption of citizen transit.


4The National Port Administration (ANP in Spanish) set a goal for the commercial and urbanistic development of the space located in the area known as Punta Sayago which, with banks on the Rio de la Plata, is about 5.5 nautical miles (approximately 10 km) away from the access channel to the port of Montevideo, about 5 km away from the intersection between National Route 1 and Tomkinson Road, about 8 km from the collector of National Routes  1 and 5, and about 15 km away from the “Peñarol node”, which belongs to the national railway network.

Puntas de Sayago is the most important medium-term expansion initiative of the agency, providing new benefits such as: free space in the port area, relief from road traffic congestion, efficient handling of cargo and strengthening the relationship Port-City.

5In this large area to the west of the city, the installation of logistics companies and development of a new distribution center that will facilitate entry and exit of regional or international goods through Uruguay, is expected, consolidating the Port of Montevideo as a Hub Port.

The Punta Sayago Logistics Pole is ideal to complement the land area of the Port of Montevideo. The goal is to achieve the expansion of the port infrastructure capacity, to connect activities and services related to the port activity and to improve the logistic efficiency of the National and Regional Port System.




Trucks Esplanade: Outside the port area and recently interconnected, the esplanade acts as a cargo distribution center between parking lots and port terminals.

The area of the esplanade is approximately 2 ha. It is administered by the ANP and has been prepared with concrete pavement in the entrances, lighting, bathrooms, and perimeter fence, among others.

Moorings in the Uruguay River: In order to facilitate and expand the space available for port operations, specific anchoring areas in the Uruguay River at the service of the Port of Nueva Palmira have been incorporated into the system, meeting the security and mooring conditions required under maritime regulations.

Punta Arenal Cargo Charge and Discharge Area

With the same goal mentioned above, i.e., to facilitate and expand the space available for port operation, a specific area has been incorporated where cargo transfers can be made among ships or bulk barges, meeting the security and mooring conditions required by maritime regulations.


The port is located in the eastern part of Uruguay, on Atlantic ocean waters, in the cape of Santa Maria and with terrestrial access from the crossing of national routes 10 and 15, 240 km away from Montevideo.

It currently serves mainly fishing, Navy and sports vessels, and recently the ANP was entrusted with the functions of administration, conservation and development of the port of La Paloma.

Port activities focus on the loading of wooden rolls to be transported by ship to the port of Fray Bentos as well as offshore supply vessel activities. The different commercial development opportunities in this port are currently being analyzed and explored.


The Port of Fray Bentos is located in the city of the same name, on the left bank of the Uruguay River, 317 km away from Montevideo.

Integrated into the fertile agricultural and livestock region of the Uruguayan west coast, the port of Fray Bentos has an agile grain conveyor belt system with a load capacity of 500 t/h and a discharge capacity of 120 t/h.

It has two concrete embarkation piers: the transatlantic or overseas pier, 200 m with 34 m width and the 225 m long and 22m wide coast or union pier.

By the end of 2015 a public tender was opened for the supply of a Mobile Crane to operate in the Port of Fray Bentos. A plot of land was also acquired in a nearby area, separated some 245 meters away from the Port, with an area of approximately 7 ha.


The main objective of the Waterway is to favor fluvial communications optimizing the navigation of barges and tugs during most of the year.

The HPP is defined on the basis of a river transport strategy along the water system, in a section between Puerto Cáceres (Brazil) at its northern end and the Port of Nueva Palmira (Uruguay) at its southern end.

The countries which share this fluvial system are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The HPP has an extension of 3,442 km and includes the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, including the different arms of the Paraná River mouth.

Most of the goods transported by HPP are commodities, such as grain in general, cereals, fertilizers, fuels. In terms of export cargo from Paraguay and Bolivia, soybeans are the main product mobilized, whose main destination is the Asian continent. The port of Nueva Palmira accounts for approximately 30% of Paraguay’s total soybean exports.

As far as the Port of Montevideo is concerned, the total movement of container shipments originating from and destined for Paraguay reached a total of 93,927 boxes by 2015, a 28% growth compared to the volume of the previous year. This market accounted for 44% of the total number of transhipment containers attracted by the Port of Montevideo during the year.

[1] The initials TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) represent the unit of measure for the maritime transport containers’s capacity. A TEU is the normalized loading capacity of one 20 ft container. The 20 ft normalized container exterior dimensions are: 20 ft length x 8 ft width x 8,5 ft height.

[2] Source: Elaborated by URUGUAY XXI, based on ANP’s data. Note: Corresponds to goods without its container’s weight. Doesn’t include the mobilized goods on ANCAP’s “La Teja” docks.

[3] Top Off Operation: Operation whereby operator may load an entire vessel or complete ships from regions with lower draft, having free space in the hold.