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Kerala Shipping & Inland Navigation Corp diversifying into bunkering biz - 2012-03-12

The State-owned Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) is diversifying into bunkering business. The company, currently engaged in water transport, sees good potential for sellingfuel (bunkering) to vessels in the outer harbour. The company has chartered a vessel, ‘m.t. Vidhylakshmi', with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes for the business.

The ship commenced its maiden sale on Tuesday of about 550 tonnes of furnace oil to a ship anchored in the outer harbour. The company has the backing of all the public sector oil marketing companies in the new business, said an official. Mr Tom Jose, Chairman and Managing Director, said that the KSINC has ventured into the bunkering business as part of its expansion plans. To encourage bunker supply through Kochi Port, the State Government had recently reduced the VAT on furnace oil by 0.5 per cent.

Now Kochi can offer fuel at prices comparatively lower than Colombo, which is the nearest major bunkering port. Being the closest port in India to the international shipping channel, Kochi has tremendous potential in developing bunker business and becoming the largest bunkering port in the country. Currently, most of the bunkering services are carried out in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Dubai. Today, the inner harbour bunkering supply at Kochi is only about 50,000 tonnes annually, while at Colombo, it is more than 3.50 lakh tonnes.

The annual bunkering market in India is estimated at 12 lakh tonnes, he said. KSINC has started the initiative to boost its business, which is currently focussed on plying barges and tourist boats.