Week ending August 8, 2002


News on Shipping

India Steamship to acquire LPG Ammonia carrier KK Birla group company - India Steamship Company Limited (ISCL) is reportedly planning to acquire a specialised LPG-ammonia carrier this year, as part of its strategy for greater integration with group companies. Carriage of ammonia and phosphoric acid, which are imported for manufacture of fertilisers by other group companies, have been specially identified as captive cargo. Ammonia is carried in highly specialised LPG-ammonia carriers and the company plans to make a beginning by acquiring one carrier and is planning to thereby achieve greater integration with the activities of other associate companies in the group. The company also plans to upgrade its existing tanker vessel 'Ratna Abha', so that it could continue to be in operation for a longer period. The ISCL operations have meanwhile, shown a net loss of Rs 7.75 crore during the fiscal 2001-02, against a net profit of Rs 1.53 crore due to repairs to two ships.

Manning norms for coastal vessels to be eased The shipping ministry has mooted an amendment to the Merchant Shipping Act to bring down the manning levels in the coastal shipping segment. The proposed amendment seeks to give coastal shipping much needed boost and bring down the cost of goods transported within the country. The Merchant Shipping Act currently does not differentiate between international shipping and coastal (domestic) shipping in India. A separate dispensation for coastal cargo under the Merchant Shipping Act has been a long-standing demand from the Indian shipping industry. This would expedite the cargo handling and facilitate quicker turnaround of coastal vessels without involving the regulatory authorities like customs.

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News on Ports

KPT calls for bids for capital dredging Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has invited bids for capital dredging, shore disposal and construction of dykes and trimming in the estuary of the Hooghly, estimated to cost Rs 290.36 crore. The last date for receiving of bids for the project, is August 21 2002. This is the fifth time since April 2001 that the Port authorities have invited bids for the project. In the current bid notice, KoPT has dispensed with the maintenance dredging clause, incorporated in an earlier tenders. The work comprises three major elements - construction of dykes using geo-tubes, geo-textiles, sand bags, boulders and other construction materials in the foreshore and also behind the existing irrigation embankment from the upstream side of Balari; capital dredging of a 10-km long channel having a bottom width of 200 metres, at a dredged depth of 4.5 metres and shore disposal of the dredged material within the dyked area at a distance of 7.5 km, including pipeline; trimming of the western face of Nayachara Island and disposal at a distance of about five km on the eastern side of the Southern guide wall to be constructed by another agency.

MoS ready to renegotiate Vallarpadam deal with P&O In what could be termed a major shift in government's position on the issue of Rs. 2,000 crore Vallarpadam container terminal project, the government has reportedly indicated its willingness to offer the project to P&O Ports, if it were willing to accept changes in the tender document relating to revenue flows. The Union Shipping Ministry is currently working out the modalities of changes, based on financial model prepared by Infrastructure Development & Finance Corporation (IDFC). The tenders for Vallarpadam had been called in May 1998, in which P&O Ports had emerged to be the lone bidder. The government however, refrained from awarding the contract to P&O citing monopoly and concerns of long-term revenue flows from the project. P&O Ports has however, kept the tender alive by requesting for extending its validity from time to time.

Mundra port rail line handles 1.25-mt cargo After eight months of operation, the 57-km long rail line between Adipur and Mundra set up by Gujarat Adani Port Ltd., has handled 466 rakes of various commodities totalling 1.25 million tonnes of cargo. The longest private railway line was put up at a cost of Rs 160 crore. The commodities handled include coal, fertilizer, wheat, chickpeas, rice and edible oils. The railway line is designed to handle speed of 100 km per hour and can handle 12 trains each way every day. Mundra port owns the land, railway track and other assets and maintains the same, while Western Railways, operates the link by providing locomotives, wagons and essential staff. It is estimated that cargo traffic on this rail track would be more than 15 million tonnes 2011-12. Earlier cargo was moved by road between Mundra and the nearest railway stations - Gandhidham and Bhimasar, resulting in lower evacuation and dispatch rate of cargo with obvious cost implications to the port users.

Vizag port to take up Rs 450-crore modernization plan Vishakapatanam port has drawn up a Rs 450-crore modernization programme to be implemented during the current tenth plan period. The programme is aimed at upgrading the cargo transfer system at the port to handle the projected traffic of 140 million tonnes by the end of 2020. Under the plan, first preference is to be given to expanding the ore handling complex (OHC) from the present 8 million tonnes to 14 million tonnes at a cost of Rs 100 crore. Further an amount of Rs 62 crore will be spent for acquiring new cranes, Rs. 12 crore for new dredger and Rs 3.43 crore to deepen the port waterways. Another Rs. 20 crore would be spent on upgrading the oil mooring facility, while Rs 45 crore would be spent for acquiring grab unloaders for faster bulk cargo discharges. The East Quay berth is being strengthened at a cost of Rs 37 crore so that it could accommodate bigger vessels.

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News on Logistics

XPS Cargo Services signs MoU with a Chinese firm XPS Cargo Services has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China's Sinotrans Beijing Co. XPS estimates that the tie-up would result in an increase in business volume by 100 tonnes per month initially and 500 tonne by the end of the year.

News on Commodity Trade

MMTC to export 1.5 million tonnes of wheat Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC), a trading company will be exporting 1.5 million tonnes of wheat and rice during the current fiscal, taking advantage of the comfortable stock position of government and price competitiveness in the international grains market. The company is planning to export 1 million tonnes of wheat and 500,000 tonnes of rice this year and has already shipped 300,000 and 150,000 tonnes respectively as on July 15 this year.

Oilmeal exports up by 16.6 per cent in July 2002 India's oil meal exports have registered a 16.6 per cent increase in July at 99,796 tonnes up from 85,525 tonnes in the same month last year. The improvement is primarily attributed to improvement in market conditions and increased shipments of rapeseed meal, which rose sharply to 60,533 tonnes from mere 11,500 tonnes in July 2001. Exports of soyabean extractions were however down at 27,318 tonnes from 67,525 in July 2001. Overall the oilmeal exports during April-July have registered 14.3 per cent increase at 422,000 tonnes up from 369,000 tonnes in the same period last year.

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