Week ending March 26, 2002


News on Ports

Major ports efficiency level improves The average pre-berthing waiting time at major ports has declined from 0.9 days in 1999-2000 to 0.5 days in 2000-01, while the average turn-around time of ships has touched 4.1 from 5.1 days in the same period. The improvements in efficiency parameters have been possible through creation of additional cargo handling capacity at major ports. The total cargo handling capacity at the major ports went up from 219.55 million tonnes at the beginning of Ninth five-year plan as on April 1, 1997 to 291.45 million tonnes on March 31 2001. The total capacity at major ports is expected to touch 344.40 million tonnes by March 31 2002, the terminal year of the plan. The total capacity additions at major ports during the Ninth plan period works out to 124.85 million tonnes.

JM Baxi-Dubai Port Authority consortium bags contract for VPT box terminal JM Baxi-Dubai Ports Authority consortium has bagged the contract for operating and managing the container terminal at the Vishakapatanam Port. The consortium was the highest bidder for the project and was has been selected by the Ministry of Shipping. The consortium had reportedly quoted an upfront fee of Rs. 3 crore and a royalty worth Rs. 29 crore during the concession period of 30 years. The outer berth developed by VPT at a cost of Rs.59 crore will be entrusted to the private operator for being converted into a multi-purpose berth, including container handling facilities.

VPT meets the targets set for cargo traffic The Vishakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) has achieved the cargo traffic during the financial year 2000-01 by handling 42.5 million tonnes of cargo traffic, against the target of 42.5 million tonnes set by the Ministry of Shipping (MoS). The traffic in respect of POL, thermal coal and lamp coke has exceeded the target. However, there is a marginal shortfall was seen in respect of iron ore, due to global economic recession and in fertilizers and raw materials. The port handled 17.84 million tonnes of POL, exceeding the target of 15.50 million tonnes, while 3.80 million tonnes of thermal coal was handled against target of 3.60 million tonnes. The port also handled 5.8 million tonnes of coking coal and lamp coke against a target of 5.2 million tonnes. In the fiscal year 2002-03, the port is expected to handle a total traffic of 44.5-million tonnes.

JNPT records 1.5 million containers Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has achieved a traffic level of 1.5 million containers during the year 2000-01, exceeding the target of 1.35 million containers fixed by the Ministry of Shipping (MoS) during the year. The port has also exceeded the target of 0.30 million tonnes set for dry bulk (comprising fertilizer and foodgrains) traffic by handling at 0.36 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo, as on March 18 2002. The port has, however, fallen short of the target set by MoS in respect of liquid and general cargo handled at 3.34 million tonnes and 0.86 million tonnes respectively. The actual volume of liquid and general cargo handled at the port stood at 2.88 million tonnes and 0.78 million tonnes respectively. Meanwhile, the NSICT which manages the two container terminals at the port has reported 36.71 per cent growth to 8,53786 teus during April-February 2000-01 as compared to 6,24,531 teus I the corresponding period of the previous financial year. The JNPT, which manages three of the container terminals, in the same period handled 5,61,304 teus against 4,48,602 teus in the same period of previous year.

TAMP to be made appellate tribunal The Union Shipping Ministry is reportedly working on a proposal to convert the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) into an appellate tribunal. Under the proposal , the port service providers can independently fix and revise tariffs without seeking TAMP approval. However, port users can approach the appellate tribunal for any grievances relating to tariffs fixed by the service providers. The plan to convert TAMP into a tribunal was first mooted by a committee under Mr.C. Babu Rajeev, formerly chairman of Kochi Port Trust (KPT), which went into modalities of over-hauling the Major Ports Trust Act, 1963 and the Indian Ports Act 1908. While approving amendments to the MPT Act earlier for creating TAMP, the government had fixed an initial time-frame of five year tenure, based on the premise that a tariff regulator would be necessary till market forces came into play to fix and revise tariffs at major ports. The government now feels that sufficient competition has been generated in major ports and port operators can now independently fix the tariffs, while TAMP can withdraw into a adjudicating role.

Fresh tender likely for Hooghly estuary works The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) is reportedly considering floating a fresh tender for the River Regulatory Scheme for improving the draft level in Hooghly estuary. While several international dredging contractors had submitted their bids in response to the tender floated early this year, none of the bidders have been found to be fulfilling the conditions stipulated in the original tender. The stipulation in the tender required that successful contractor must have taken up at least Rs 10-crore worth of work experience, in building dykes with geo-tubes. However, none of the bidders for the dredging contracts fulfilled the condition. Since most international contractors have already bid for the work, the port authorities, are likely to relax certain conditions stipulated in the original tender, when the bid is re-floated.

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News on Shipping

Essar Shipping promoters to hike their stake to 74 per cent The promoters of Essar Shipping have decided to hike their stake in the company to 74.39 per cent from existing 48.34 per cent, following the proposed issue of equity shares by appropriation of un-secured interest-free loan (quasi equity). A notice calling for extra-ordinary general meeting says that 10:50 crore equity shares would be issued at par, in lieu of unsecured interest-free loan of Rs. 105 crore, while Rs. 9.50 crore equity shares will be issued, as fresh equity shares at par to raise Rs. 95 crore, to be used to augment the long term requirements of the company. The proposed move apart from increasing the stake of the promoters, would also benefit the company in bringing down the tax liability, following the broadening of the definition of Section 33AC to allow greater amount to be transferred to tax-free ship acquisition reserves. The conversion of debt to equity would result in increased net worth for Essar Shipping, thereby enabling it to transfer more amounts into ship acquisition reserve and reduce its tax liability.

CBEC allows overseas bound Indian ships to carry coastal cargo The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has issued a notification allowing ocean-going Indian registered ships, operating in routes covering more than one Indian port to a port outside India and vice versa, to carry coastal containers along with export-import cargo between two Indian ports. The CBEC move will help create better capacity utilization of ships and bring down the transaction cost of exports and imports. Hitherto, this facility was not available for ocean-bound vessels. The CBEC decision will benefit Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), which has a strong presence in coastal cargo movements.

Lots Shipping launches its second cargo barge Lots Shipping and Trading Private Limited, a Kochi-based barge operator has launched its second cargo-cum-container barge – Muziris – to be deployed in the West Coast Canal, part of the National Waterways No- 3 in Kerala. Gentech Marine Engineers, a Kochi-based yard built the 350-tonne barge was built in 79 days at a total coast of Rs.0.75 million. The first vessel of the company, Meenachil, a 550-tonne barge is currently transporting sulphur and rock phosphate for the public sector FACT from Cochin Port Trust (CPT).

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News on Shipyards

MoS to consider CSL proposal for expansion The Ministry of Shipping is reportedly considering a proposal submitted by Cochin Shipyard Ltd. to expand the ship repair facilities at an estimated cost of Rs.98.38 crore. The expansion plan envisages installation of 120 metre ship lift system with essential facilities for which CSL would contribute Rs 48.38 crore from its internal resources, while balance Rs.50 crore is expected to be raised from the market. Singapore’s Keppel Shipyard is believed to be interested in forging a joint venture with CSL for setting up ship repair facilities.

Cochin Shipyard to construct fire-fighting vessel for VPT Cochin Shipyard Ltd. (CSL) has formally laid the keel of the Fire Float built for Vishakapatanam Port Trust (VPT). The order for the design, construction and delivery of the special-purpose vessel was bagged by CSL against stiff competition. The 32.9 metre long vessel, which will have a breadth of 10 metres and a depth of 4.25 metres, with a crew capacity of 10, will cost of Rs.7.59 crore. The fire fighting and rescue vessel will be delivered by June 2003. Apart from this, the CSL is also constructing a ocean-going trailing suction hopper dredger for Chennai Port Trust (CPT) and another 93,000 dwt double hull tanker MT Maharshi Parashuram for Shipping Corporation of India (SCI). The public sector shipyard is also constructing a 130 metre-long barge for National Petroleum Construction Company, Abu Dhabi, which it won against stiff competition from yards in Singapore and China.


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