News on Shipping

GE Shipping records highest ever Q1 profits at Rs 96 crore : GE Shipping has recorded its highest ever quarterly net profits of Rs 96.2 crore during the first quarter of 2003-04, a growth of 227 per cent from the level recorded in the same period last year. The record performance follows high freight and charter hire earnings and lower maintenance expenditure achieved by the company during the period. The company recorded net profits of Rs 227.3 crore during the last financial year. The GE Shipping performance is quite commendable considering that shipping markets worldwide have been living through a lot of uncertainty and volatile freight indices. During the first quarter, the company has recorded a total income of Rs. 304.1 crore (corresponding quarter Rs 231.3 crore) a increase of 31.4 per cent. The shipping division of the company contributed 68.4 per cent of the total revenue and 57.5 per cent of the profits, while the offshore division contributed 25 per cent of the quarterly incomes and 30.9 per cent of the quarterly net profits, before tax and interest.

Mercator to move crude for MRPL : The DG Shipping has granted permission to Mercator Lines for in-chartering Tassels, a Malta-flagged Aframax tanker owned Dynacomm, a Greek company. Tassels will be deployed to haul crude cargo from Kharag Island in Iran to Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), a subsidiary of ONGC. The tanker is being hired at about $17,500 per day. The DG Shipping has approved company's proposal as per guidelines on chartering foreign-flagged vessels. Under cabotage law, an Indian entity can charter a foreign flag vessel only when Indian flags of suitable size and requirement are not available. The DG (Shipping) has in effect ignored a proposal by GE Shipping to offer its Ratna Shalini, the 90,000 dwt Aframax carrier it has hired from the K.K. Birla-owned India Steam Ship Company (ISS), as the vessel would not be able to load the quantities required and was not available in the required lay days. Mercator reportedly clinched the deal for transporting crude cargo for MRPL from end July to March 31 next year at a world scale rate of 112 (about $5 per tonne). The deal involves moving about 4-6 parcels of crude monthly from Iran on Aframax carriers ranging between 85,000 dwt to 95,000 dwt. Mercator is the first crude contract to be awarded by MRPL after it was taken over by ONGC.

Shreyas to launch feeder service between NSICT and Mundra : Shreyas Shipping is planning to start a fixed day weekly feeder service linking Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal and the Mundra International Container Terminal (MICT). The vessel with a capacity to carry 430 teu will leave NSICT on Tuesday and reach MICT on the next day and further sail to Kandla port before calling back at NSICT again on Monday. The service is expected to solve the problem of connectivity for major lines calling on at Mundra, as Concor is yet to finalize the rail movement of boxes out of Mundra for North India. Mundra port has already seen the first container vessel call on the port on July 17.

P&I cover made mandatory for all vessels at Mumbai port : Mumbai port has made it mandatory for all ships calling at the port to produce a certificate from their local P&I agents conforming the validity of the vessel's third-party insurance cover, with effect from July 31, 2003. The port's move has alarmed ship owners and P&I Clubs as it would be difficult for the local agents to certify the validity of the international P&I cover. Meanwhile, the London-based International Group of P&I Clubs has requested Mumbai port to defer its decision. Shipping industry sources say MbPT is the first port in the world to ask for a certificate from the local agent to ensure the validity of P&I covers.

DT Joseph: Shipping sector must present a united face : The Indian shipping industry is not getting the attention it deserves due to lack of unity and mutual aggression among shipping fraternity, D.T. Joseph, Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping told members of the consultative committee of City Chambers of Commerce. Joseph said the road sector, most-polluted and least-regulated, attracted Rs 56,000-crore Golden Quadrilateral project to connect all the four corners of the country. However, there is no project of that magnitude in the shipping sector despite the fact that about 96 per cent of the country's export-import is transported through sea. The Sethusamudram project, likely to cost less than Rs 1,000 crore, is an example. By taking up the deepening of the canal in the Gulf of Mannar, ships can reduce the transit time between East and West coast of India by about 500 nautical miles and 40 hours.

Shipping ministry seeks DGS clarification on ban on aged oil tankers : Union Shipping Ministry has reportedly sought comments from the DG (Shipping) on reactions received from tanker operators and charterers to its recent ban on in-chartering of foreign-flag oil tankers before finalizing its own stand. The DG (Shipping) new guidelines are scheduled to come into force from September 1. International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) has said that guidelines violate international law. Intertanko is also planning to challenge the ban at the meeting of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In a circular issued on June 11, the DG (Shipping) had stipulated an age limit of 25 years for crude oil carriers, product tankers and chemical tankers and 30 years for gas tankers. Besides, all tankers above 20 years must have at least Condition Assessment Programme 2 (CAP 2) rating for hull, machinery and cargo equipment from the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). DG had also made it mandatory for all tankers to be classed with IACS or the Indian Register of Shipping, citing possible environmental hazard from sub-standard foreign flag oil tankers calling at Indian ports as the reason for issuing the circular.

Work on Vizhinjam port to begin in 2004 :The work on the development of Vizhinjam port, near Trivandrum will begin early next year, Mr M.V. Raghavan, Minister for Ports, Kerala government has stated. He informed that proposed site for developing the port had been shifted from Adimalithura to one end of the breakwater near the fishing harbour to avoid the displacement of fisher folk. Dubai Port Authority (DPA) was invited by the State government to examine the port for possible future development. The minister said that feasibility study on the project was to be completed next month. The developer for the port would be finalized by year-end after floating global tenders inviting bids. The port development project, estimated to cost Rs 2,500 crore, would be executed in two phases and when completed would speed up the development of the Thiruvananthapuram capital region.

Improvement in Hooghly river draft near Kolkata Dock System : According to Kolkata Port Trust the draft in the Hooghly River at the Kolkata Dock System (KDS) is showing signs of improvement. As per the forecast for the months of July and August, the available draft will be 8.3 metres compared to 7.8 metres in the corresponding period of the previous year. As a result of this improvement, the average parcel size of the vessel calling at KDS increases to 8,769 tonnes per vessel from 6,857 tonnes. This will benefit vessels carrying break-bulk and liquid cargoes, constituting about 50 per cent of the total number vessels calling at KDS. KoPT has urged container vessel operators to take advantage of the improved draft situation.

Concession pact signed to develop Dighi port : Maharashtra Maritime Board and Mumbai-based Balaji Leasing and Industries Co Ltd (BLIC) have signed a concession agreement for development, management and operation of Dighi port, located on the Rajpuri creek inlet in Raigarh district. The project, which will be implemented by Dighi Port Ltd, as associate company of BLIC, envisages dredging and reclamation, construction of a multi-purpose jetty and other support infrastructure facilities in the first phase at a cost of Rs 400 crore. In the second, the company will invest Rs 1,200 crore to set up additional storage for liquid cargo.

Kolkata port draws up Rs 150 crore scheme for upgrading Haldia dock: Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has planned to spend about Rs 150 crore to upgrade container handling facilities at Haldia dock. Of this amount, about Rs 95 crore would be spent on acquiring three rubber-tyred yard cranes, another Rs 50 crore on two rail mounted quay cranes and about Rs 10 crore on hard standing of the container yard and creating other facilities. In 2002-03, the container throughput at Haldia was 117,000 teu slated to rise by more than 120,000 teus by end of the current fiscal.

Concor to help ease Nhava Sheva congestion: Container Corporation of India (Concor) has offered its Dronagiri rail terminal facility, located about seven km from the port, to evacuate the import containers that are choking NSICT. As per the proposed move, import boxes of 40-foot dimension would be brought to the rail terminal by road and from there could be moved to Tughlakabad by rail. Concor will deploy one train from the Dronagiri to Tughlakabad, and may increase frequency depending on the demand pick-up. The tariff for containers moved by Concor to and from the rail terminal would remain the same as in the case of containers from Sanathnagar. Earlier, CWC had offered shipping lines its custom bond facility to help them move their import containers by road to Delhi- with this facility shipping lines need not have to pay the heavy custom duty that independent transporters have to pay and, instead, could tie up with CWC to avail themselves of the latter's low custom duty tariff.

P&O and CONCOR negotiating over cutting back haulage: P&O Ports is negotiating with Concor and other agencies to bring down the inland haulage costs for moving boxes from Delhi to Chennai for onward shipment to final destination in an effort to reduce the cost differential and make Chennai cost competitive with Mumbai. Reduction in inland haulage costs is expected to make Chennai as alternative gateway to Mumbai, for the South East and Fareast Asia-bound traffic. While shipping lines themselves have no problem calling on Chennai ports, the real obstacle is the longer distance between Chennai and North India, which the containers have to traverse involving added inland haulage costs. The cost differences between operating ocean freight from Mumbai and Chennai to locations such as Singapore, port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas, China, Japan and Korea is marginal. Currently the costs of moving a container from Chennai port to Tughlakabad ICD is about 21,850, which is sought to be brought down to Rs. 19,300 under the negotiations underway. The rates for a 40 ft. container are like-wise being sought to be brought down to Rs 38,300 from Rs. 43,700. The aggregate port cost have also been cut by Rs. 1690 for a teu from Rs 5,615 to Rs. 2,885 by the container terminal at Chennai.

Bidders for the Mumbai coastal passenger water transport project short-listed : The Maharashtra Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has short-listed five bidders - M&M Triton, Four Seasons, Maldar Shipping and Satyagiri Shipping promoted by Nitin Joshi and SKS Shipping - for the Rs 500 crore passenger Water Transport System and the tenders received would be opened on July 17. The project involves setting up of an inland water transport system for west coast of the city, with five locations for passenger jetties, which include NCPA at Nariman Point, Bandra off Hotel Searock, Versova, Marve Beach, and Essel World crossing at Borivili. MSRDC, the nodal agency of the state government is tendering the project on a BOOT basis for 30 years. The private operator will construct five passenger jetties as well as construct the terminal facilities.

Gujarat government approves Adani group's SEZ proposal : Gujarat government has given its approval to the Adani group's proposal for setting up Rs 4,000 crore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Mundra. The proposal has now been forwarded to the Union Commerce ministry for final approval and is likely to be cleared within a month's time. The Mundra SEZ will be the third SEZ to be set up in the Gujarat state, which already has two SEZs at Kandla and Surat. The Mundra SEZ will be developed in two phases and the first phase is likely to involve investments to the tune of Rs 650 crore. The clearance from the State government came after considerable delays, mainly on account of viability issues of the project. The first phase of development of SEZ is likely to take eight years for completion spread over 6,0000 hectares of land. The second phase of development will be taken up in the remaining 4,000 hectares of land over the next seven years. Adani's have appointed AF Ferguson to carry out detailed feasibility study of the project for which it has already prepared a concept outline and a development model.


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