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Posted July 13, 2008 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Doreen Hemlock | Havana Bureau-South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Cuba is deepening its main seaports to handle larger and heavier ships and trim its costs for shipping.

Dredging is underway in Havana, Santiago and Cienfuegos ports, which together receive about 85 percent of cargo imports, National Port Authority officials told the weekly business newspaper Opciones.

When projects are finished next year, the three ports should average depths of 11.5 meters, or 37.7 feet. That will allow ships now calling to carry bigger loads and let larger ships enter, cutting transport costs by at least $50 million a year from today’s less efficient service by smaller and lighter vessels, Opciones reported.

The newspaper did not disclose the price tag for dredging, which includes at least one contract with a Dutch firm.

The projects come as cargo centers worldwide vie to accommodate a new generation of mega-ships. The Panama Canal is investing more than $5 billion to expand facilities to handle the giant vessels. Broward County’s Port Everglades is seeking approval for a $400 million project to dredge its channel from 45 feet to 49 feet.

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