5 Major Ports in Portugal

Portugal lies on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe and faces the Atlantic Ocean on its western and southern borders. It is a developed nation with a prosperous economy.

The shipping and marine transportation sector is fairly advanced, a result of increased foreign investments, technological developments and the government’s policies.

Portugal has 40 seaports and riverports that are highly developed facilities, at par with global maritime standards due to constant infrastructural development and modernization projects.

In this article, let us have a look at the five major ports of Portugal, their terminals and other facilities and services.

These ports are the biggest contributors to the country’s GDP and handle more than half of the nation’s international trade.

Port of Lisbon

Lisbon port is the main seaport of Portugal. Situated on the banks of river Tagus, near its outlet to the Atlantic Ocean, the port handles the majority of the country’s export-import trade. The city of Lisbon holds administrative and commercial significance and hence Lisbon port is an important contributor to the city’s economy, serving its manufacturing, industrial and tourism sectors.

Lisbon port is the busiest port in comparison to other Portuguese ports, visited by more than 3500 vessels every year and handling 13,200,000 tonnes of cargo and 555,000 TEU. It mostly deals with agricultural foodstuff and containerised cargo, however, it is not just a commercial port facility but a popular tourist destination that also attracts recreational boaters and yachtsmen.

Lisbon is considered to be an ancient port city that was used as a trading post by Phoenicians. During the period of European colonial expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries, imperialist powers like Britsh, Portuguese and Dutch longed to colonise it, as it enjoys a privileged geographical location.

It is located amidst the world’s major oceanic trade routes, connecting the Mediterranean region with Northern and Central Europe and enables maritime trade among the continents of the far east, Africa, Europe and America.


Port of Lisbon
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Today, it is one of the world’s most efficient port facilities, that continues to attract investors and tourists alike. Numerous multinational corporations and shipping companies have based their headquarters in the Lisbon region. Lisbon port boasts world-class port services focusing on customer satisfaction and increasing the port’s productivity.

The port of Lisbon covers more than 32,000 hectares and over 16,000 m of berthage is available. It is spread over the North and the South banks; the former has numerous berths with a total length of 13,000 m with varying alongside depths of 4 to 13 m. The berths on the Southern bank span 3000 m with a depth of 3 to 17 m.

All kinds of diverse cargo, including conventional goods, bulk, containers are handled on the North Bank. Apart from handling cargo, the North Bank also contains three passenger or cruise ship terminals such as the Alcantra terminal, which possess the best safety equipment.

Recreational boating is a famous activity at the port which offers excellent conditions for all kinds of boaters all through the year. Hence, the port manages 4 docks, with a handling capacity of around 1100 boats and offers essential services to boaters. Due to all these factors, Lisbon port sees more than 400,000 tourists every year.

The South Bank comprises specialised facilities for handling solid and liquid bulk cargo such as chemicals, fertilizers, ores and also bunkering. It also has Lisnave shipyards, a joint venture of the Portuguese and other international shipping corporations.

Port of Aveiro

Port of Aveiro lies on the western coastline of Portugal on the bank of the Aveiro river. It is a sheltered river port that deals with exports of general cargo, paper pulp, liquid chemicals, fish and imports of grains, metal products, and cement. It handles about 3.5 million tonnes of cargo annually and is visited by more than 1000 vessels every year.

The port authority is Administracao do Porto de Aveiro, (APA SA) was formed in 1998 and is responsible for the operation, management and developmental projects of the Aveiro port.

Port of Aveiro
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The port is divided into five specific zones or port areas namely, the North terminal, Chemical handling facility, offshore fishing sector, South terminal and the Coastal fishing zone. Thus, it is a multipurpose port that is crucial for the Portuguese economy as it serves numerous industries in its hinterland such as ceramics, wine-making units, chemical plants, wood and its derivatives including agricultural and manufacturing.

North Terminal

Port Aveiro’s North Terminal comprises a 900 m long dock spanning 328 m. It also contains 8 warehouses, two dedicated to the storage of cement and bagged goods. This facility mainly deals with general cargo and solid bulk like cement, cereal, paper, metal, wood and clay.

The Roll-on/Roll-off Terminal includes a 450 m long wharf with an alongside depth of 11 m and covers 130,000 sq m.

South Terminal

Containing a 400 m long wharf with an alongside depth of 7 m and covering roughly 47,000 sq m, this facility is operated by the Socarpor Company. It has a sheltered storage space and three warehouses, two of them dedicated to keeping cement and bulk cargo. This terminal handles cement, fish, sea salt, cereal, Kaolin, clay, and paper.

Liquid Bulk Terminal

The chemical handling region of the port includes facilities leased to some private shipping companies that handle shipments of vinyl chloride, fuels, anilines, MDI, methanol, and other chemicals.

Bulk Cargo Terminal

It is a specialised facility dealing with agro-alimentary and non-alimentary goods. This terminal has a 750 m long wharf with an alongside depth of 12 m, spanning 150 thousand sq m.

Port of Leixoes

Leixoes port is one of the most important ports in Portugal. Situated on the river Douro on the western coast of the Iberian peninsula, it serves the northern region of the country by handling containerised cargo, conventional cargo, solid and liquid bulk and ro-ro and passenger vessels. It is a multipurpose port facility that handles more than 20% of Portuguese international trade.

More than 2500 vessels frequent the port annually while its cargo throughput is around 15,650,000 tonnes and it handles 450,000 TEU of containerised goods and more than 25,000 passengers. It can also accommodate the biggest carrier ships weighing more than 100,000 tonnes.

The port comprises three quays for handling conventional cargo which deals with shipments of cotton, cork, timber, iron and steel, granite, metal, vehicles and chassis, cereals, machinery, transformers and wind turbines. These three docks have the latest port equipment and a storage space spanning more than 50,000 sq m.


Port of Leixoes
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Container Terminals

Leixoes port has a north and a south container handling facility that became operational in 1999 and has been expanded considerably. The Northern terminal spans six hectares and has a 360 m long quay. It has an annual handling capacity of 250,000 TEUs and a storage capacity of 4000 TEUs.The Southern Terminal comprises a 540-meter long quay with alongside depth of 12 meters. Spanning 16 hectares, it handles 350 thousand TEUs per year and stores 15 thousand TEUs.

Agri-bulk Terminal

This facility comprises a 400 m quay and is equipped with three cranes and a pollution control system. It has a 22,000 sq m storage space, two warehouses and two silo tanks with a storage capacity of 120,000 tonnes.

Liquid Bulk Terminal

This facility is dedicated to petroleum and its derivatives however there are numerous berths such as South Mole that handle liquid fuels, liquefied petroleum gas, asphalt, and molasses.

Oil Terminal

It is 700 m long and constructed 15 m above sea level and is connected to Petrogal Refinery through a pipeline. The oil terminal contains three piers that handle crude oil, refined oil, liquified gases and aromatic goods. The piers can accommodate vessels weighing around 100,000 DWT.

The Roll-on/Roll-off Terminal deals with weekly shipments of vehicles and heavy equipment and incorporates a storage area for 100 trailers. The Passenger Terminal of the port covers 840 square meters. It has a 300 m long dock that can accommodate vessels 205 m long with an 8 m draft.

Port of Setubal

Setubal port lies on the estuary of the Sado river on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, some distance from Lisbon. Setubal is Portugal’s main port facility for handling ro-ro vessels followed by containerised goods, breakbulk and bulk cargo. It also offers shipbuilding and ship repair facilities.

The region’s fishing industry is also served by the port which has a naturally well-sheltered harbour with a deep and safe anchorage. It handles about 6,100,000 tonnes of cargo every year and around 20,000 TEUs. More than 1500 ships visit the port annually. The main cargo dealt at this port includes roll-on/roll-off cargo, container goods, cement, clinker, metal, copper and zinc concentrate, oil, gasoline etc.

Port of Setubal
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Multi-use Terminal Zone 1

This facility handles roll-on/roll-off, solid bulk, and containers on its 864 m long wharf with an alongside depth of 9.5 m. It also contains 2.1 thousand sq m of paved storage space.

Multi-use Terminal Zone 2

Comprising a 725 m long wharf, this terminal is equipped with a 50-ton capacity gantry crane and a post-Panamax gantry crane and has 1.6 thousand square meters of covered storage.

Terminal Portuario

This facility handles solid and liquid bulk and can accommodate ships with a 10.5 m draft. The terminal has three berths and has a storage space spanning 25,000 sq m.

Private terminals

Setubal port has numerous terminals dedicated to private use by shipping companies. One such is the Terminal Secil, used by companies that transport cement, clinker and coal. This terminal has a 60,000 sq m of storage space. The Terminal da Uralada is dedicated to liquid bulk only such as alimentary oil and molasses and can accommodate huge ships weighing more than 50,000 DWT. Terminal Tanquisado handles combustible liquids and the Teporset Terminal specializes in clinker and cement.

The port’s recreational dock of Fontainhas provides a mooring facility for about 150 small ships and boats. It also offers fresh water and recreational links along with sanitary facilities. The Lisnave Estaleiros Navais SA facility repairs ships and offshore platforms. It comprises six docks that can accommodate many ships at once.

Port of Sines

Sines port lies on the western coast of Portugal, north of Sines bay and is a deepwater port that can receive the biggest ships. It has five terminal facilities for handling oil, petrochemicals, LNG, multipurpose, general cargo and containers. The port also includes a fishing harbour and a leisure marina. All the terminals are protected by breakwaters.

The major imports handled at the port are crude oil, coal, LNG and naphtha while the main export commodities are refined oil and petrochemical products. The port is visited by more than 1400 vessels every year and handles 27,200,000 tonnes of cargo, including 230,000TEU.


Port of Sines
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The Liquid Bulk Terminal has six docks and can receive vessels weighing 300,000 tonnes. The Petrochemical facility comprises two wharves to accommodate vessels carrying Propylene, Ethylene, Butadiene, ETBE, Ethanol, MTBE, Aromatic Compounds, Methanol. The multipurpose terminal handles general cargo and can accommodate ships weighing up to 200,000t DWT. The port also has a Natural gas terminal with a dock capable of handling tankers upto 220,000 m3.

The port also has a container terminal that spans 42 hectares and has an annual cargo handling capacity of 2.4 million TEUs. This terminal is being expanded with the implementation of a port development project, that would increase the port’s storage area to 60 hectares and its annual handling capacity to 4 million TEUs.

Portugal Ports Map

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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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