Hapag-Lloyd has teamed up with Norsul Navegacao to form a new operator in the Brazilian cabotage trades.

The 50:50 partnership, called Norcoast, will offer container cabotage and feeder services in ports from the first quarter of 2024.

Chief executive Gustavo Paschoa is a veteran of the Brazilian cabotage trades who has worked in senior management positions with Rio de Janeiro-based Norsul and other logistics companies.

The joint venture intends to capitalise on the growth of the Brazilian coastal transport sector, which handled more than 1.2m teu in 2022.

“Norcoast will offer integrated logistics as well as quick and efficient solutions for its customers — thereby taking advantage of the increasing demand in Brazil’s coastal shipping market,” said Andres Kulka, senior managing director for Latin America at Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd.

Norcoast will operate as an independent company in the sector but will be leveraging the strength of both parent companies.

It “will promote access, additional capacity and inclusion of companies in the use of coastal navigation as a transportation mode whilst being present in the largest ports in Brazil”, added Norsul CEO Angelo Baroncini.

Shifting structure

The Brazilian cabotage trades have undergone much change in recent years as the world’s largest liner operators have revamped their own operations there.

Last year, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company completed its acquisition of local shipowner and terminal operator Log-In Logistica Intermodal, which operates its fleet mostly on Brazilian coastal services, as well as to Argentina and Uruguay.

Part of Log-In’s network had been operated jointly with Mercosul Line, the Brazilian liner shipping subsidiary of CMA CGM.

Mercosul was sold to the French liner operator in 2017 by AP Moller-Maersk as part of a deal to buy Hamburg Sud, which had extensive links in the north-south liner trade linking Europe with South America.

The partnership between Norsul and Hapag-Lloyd has already been approved by the Administrative Council for Economic Defence, Brazil’s competition regulator.

A request to operate as a Brazilian shipping company was also approved by the board of the National Waterway Transport Agency.

Norsul has 60 years of experience in the Brazilian cabotage sector, where it is best known for its involvement in the bulk and tanker sectors.

It transported 28m tons of bulk and tanker cargoes last year with revenues of BRL 2.2bn ($435m).

The company’s website lists 21 owned vessels for coastal and long-distance shipping.