Week ending June 26, 2003


News on Shipping

Asian feeder operators plan hike in freight rates : 15-member Asian Feeder Discussion Group (AFDG) is reportedly contemplating a rate restoration move in order to maintain the present feeder levels and frequency. The quantum of increase in freight rates is yet to be decided and is likely to vary depending on the specific trade lane and price preferences of individual lines. The routes likely to be affected by the move include Singapore/Malaysia to Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The liner companies serving these countries include Advance Container Line, Bengal Tiger Line, Gemartrans, New Econ Line, PACC Container Line, Samudera Shipping and Sea Consortium et al.

MRPL-SCI to sign contract for coastal movement of ONGC crude : Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) and Shipping Corporation of India are due to shortly finalize a Contract of Affreightment (COA) for handling coastal movement of crude oil from Bombay High to meet requirements of Mangalore-based refinery. While SCI has been undertaking coastal crude shipments on an ad hoc basis, the COA to be signed will streamline the operation for next one year. MRPL has till recently been refining only imported crude from Iran and other American oil companies but is now contemplating supplementing its crude sourcing to optimize its installed capacity utilization of about 9 million tones.

SCI posts higher net profits : Shipping Corporation of India Ltd., presently on the block for strategic disinvestments, has reported a net profit of Rs.274.78 crore for the year ended March 2003, as compared wit Rs.241.56 crore in the previous year. Net sales for the full year however stood lower at Rs. 2,405.51 crore (Rs. 2818.23 in the previous year), with Liner division contributing Rs.674.81 crore to full year's income. The Q4 results have also been good for SCI, with a net profit of Rs.127.49 crore (Rs. 31.17 crore last year) on income of Rs. 699.58 crore (Rs.693.53 crore).

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News on Ports

NMDC steps forward to take up Dhamra port project : The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) has come forward to take up the development of Greenfield Dhamra port project, following a recent board level decision to push the port project alongside extending its mining activities to new areas. The proposal for the port project is linked to the NMDC proposal to obtain allotment of iron ore mines in Bimalgarh area in Sundergarh district of Orissa. The Orissa government has meanwhile modified the concession agreement for Dhamra port project incorporating the suggestions made by ICICI, the lead financier to improve the bankability of the project. The scope of the project includes widening of the road linking Bhadrak and Dhamra, construction of railway line between two points and establishment of an industrial park. The 50-year BOT project has a provision for renegotiating the rate of return for the government after completion of 30 years and sharing five per cent of the gross revenue with the state government during the first five years of operation.

TAMP okays ChPT proposal to reduce vessel charges : The Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has approved proposal from Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) for offering concessions in vessel-related charges for main-line vessels calling at the Chennai port with slight modifications. The order, passed on June 19, will be effective for two years. TAMP has proposed a two-tier system of mainline vessel charges at $ 11,500 for vessels below 26,509 GRT and $14,500 for vessels above 26,509 GRT. The rate is the maximum limit that can be charged and is inclusive of pilotage and port dues. Berth hire charges would however, be payable as per actual GRT for the period of occupation of the berth. The ChPT proposal had sought a uniform rate of $14,500 for all vessels above 28,000 GRT, with a capacity of about 21,100 TEUs. The TAMP order has categorized mainline vessel as a vessel or a service whose voyage extends beyond the major international hub ports on the East (beyond Tanjung Pelepas) or West (beyond Salalah or Dubai) and which commits minimum 40 voyages to Chennai port in a year. The order has also preferentially extended concessional facility to operation of direct services between Chennai and African ports, to encourage trade between the two destinations.

Crisil seeks ROCE method for financing private terminals : Crisil's Infrastructure Advisory Services, in a study undertaken for Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has sought adoption of return on capital employed (ROCE) method for estimating the allowable returns for private port terminal projects in a bid to attract more private players into the port sector. Presently, only major ports are allowed the benefit of ROCE method to the extent of government's lending rate plus three percent reserves maintained by port trusts, which work out to 18.5 per cent. In case of a private port terminal projects, TAMP has adopted an interim approach allowing return on equity, instead of capital employed as a whole.

Tuticorin port takes up ICD shipment issue with government : Tuticorin Port Trust has joined the issue with Cochin port on the issue of their exclusion from the list of ports announced by the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for being eligible to handle duty-exempted hosiery exports originating from ICDs. Following the CBEC circular, Tuticorin port stands to loose over 150 export containers per week arriving from various ICD points of Coimbatore, Karur, and Bangalore etc. The diversion of cargo from Tuticorin will also result in long-term problems for the trade and future of the port. The Tuticorin Port trust and the Tuticorin Steamer Agents Association have sought withdrawal of the CBEC circular.

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News on Logistics

Kochi port users seek lifting of curbs on ICD shipments : Kochi port users under an initiative from Kochi Port Committee, a joint forum of Exim trade fraternity have demanded that government should immediately withdraw the recent Customs notification restricting export of ICD shipments from Kochi. A recent CBSE circular had exclude Kochi port from the list of exit ports for ICD originating cargo. The exclusion of Kochi port would harm the long-term prospects of the port and result in diversion of cargo to other ports.

Customs plan to drop bank guarantee requirement for SEZ : The Customs department is considering issuing a comprehensive notification on duty exemption available to SEZ, simplifying the procedures by doing away with requirement for furnishing bank guarantees for availing duty free imports. The unified SEZ rules & regulations will reflect the amendments made to Chapter 10A of the Customs Act. All corresponding provisions on duty exemption provided to SEZ units will be incorporated in the new rules, which is to be shortly notified. The draft rules have been referred to the law ministry and the finance ministry for approval.

Goa's iron ore exports touch new peak levels : Following a major spurt in Chinese off-take of Goa's iron ore, export shipments have touched a new peak level at 23.72 million tones in 2003. Of this total quantity, 20.69 million tones were mined in Goa and 3.3 million tones of iron were from non-Goan mines. The total value of iron ore exports is estimated at Rs. 1070 crore (USD 235.34 million). Japan, which mainly decides the price of Goan iron ore is the largest buyer accounting for 10.59 million tones marginally up from 9.82 million tones in fiscal 2002. China has during the year doubled its imports of iron ore to 5.3 million tones from 2.59 million tones in 2001. The rapid rise in iron ore shipments to China have also resulted in direct shipments taking place to Chinese ports instead of being routed through Hong Kong based-intermediaries.

IMC to expand on its liquid storage terminals : IMC Group, formerly known as Indian Molasses Company, one of the largest private liquid bulk storage company with facilities spread across most major ports is planning major investment programme to further upgrade its existing storage terminals and set up facilities in new ports in the next two to three years. The new port locations, where the company has planned to set up facilities include Ennore, Tuticorin and Paradip ports. IMC already has liquid bulk storage facilities in Nhava Sheva, Kandla and Haldia ports. IMC is also exploring prospects of tying up with oil PSUs like IOC, BPCL and HPCL, part from fertilizer, chemical and vegetable oil companies to set up captive storage facilities at select ports. Several of the liquid bulk importers are increasingly looking at outsourcing their logistics including handling storage and distribution of their products to stay ahead in the competition.

DRM to focus on revamping rail logistics : The Directorate of Rail Movement (DRM), a planning and coordination body, set up under the Railway Board to take up essentially "rational movement of coal" is currently in the revamp mode. DRM which had hitherto looked after railway movement of domestically produced coal for both core and non-core sectors is now being asked to look after logistics of all other bulk commodities handled by the railway, such as iron ore, limestone, dolomite, finished steel, food grains and petroleum products. While coal still accounts for almost 50 per cent of the total freight movement by the railways, coal users have been increasingly resorting to higher-grade coal imports, with port-based rail connectivity for movement of coal becoming more important. Growth in trade in many other dry bulk commodities like iron ore and food grains as also containers is also making rail connectivity of ports to hinterlands an important issue to be tackled. The movement of majority of the bulk items handled by railways is concentrated in the eastern region, which is home to several user industries like steel and aluminum and power plants.

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