With no Master’s programme available in Marine and Coastal Engineering in Costa Rica, he completed the EU Erasmus Mundus programme instead. In 2009, he graduated into a global recession. With no news of the port, he kept busy building a bridge and a greenhouse for family members, and surfing.
He managed to land a job as an assistant superintendent with Van Oord in Mexico. One year later his dream came true: a new port was to be built in Moín. He applied for a job on the project and was the first Costa Rican engineer to be hired by APM Terminals.
Living the dream
“It really was my dream to work on this project, so it’s a special experience to actually be here. There’s a joke among engineers that everything in our country was built by our grandparents,” says Arrea. “They could have hired an experienced person to replace me, but they haven’t. I’ve been involved since day one. As an engineer and a Costa Rican, it is fantastic.”
The port is currently in its construction phase. Two international contractors, Van Oord and Bam International, are handling this phase together as a consortium. Activities include the creation of the 400,000 square metre artificial peninsula, the dredging of the access channel and eventual topside civil works for the terminal.
Arrea’s team consists of seven engineers. They are responsible for the design of the terminal but also for ensuring that the project is progressing according to plan and budget. If anything is wrong or changes need to be made in the terminal design, they are the ones responsible for implementing them.
“Changes have a ripple effect on other areas of the terminal, so it’s quite a challenging process,” he says.
The changes are plain to see in the many technical drawings of the port that cover the walls of the engineers’ shared office space. Aerial photographs show the progress of the project since it began in 2015. Outside, the construction is constant.
“The most exciting part of this job is seeing how the efforts of the project team are reflected in the progress of the construction – to see everything we developed on paper coming to life out there in Moín Bay.”