Cochin port to convert oil terminal for import of LNG

The Cochin Port Trust (CPT) plans to convert the existing oil terminal to import liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to its chairman N Ramachandran. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has already approached the port trust with a proposal to provide them with an exclusive terminal to handle imported LNG.

?We have already had two-three rounds of discussions and will soon finalise the proposal,? Ramachandran said.

Addressing a press conference here, he added that CPT had the urgency to convert the terminal as Single Point Mooring (SPM) project of BPCL at Puthuvype near Kochi would be commissioned by next year.

After the commissioning of SPM, oil terminals of CPT will remain idle and hence the plan to convert one of the terminals to an exclusive LNG inlet.

IOC can take imported bulk LNG to its bottling unit at Irimpanam from the port, near here and can be sent for distribution. At present, the company is importing LNG through the Mangalore port for distribution in southern states.

He said that 40 per cent of the revenue of CPT is through handling BPCL crude oil and when SPM becomes operational the port would lose revenue. ?Hence, we are seriously thinking of using the terminals to maximise the revenue of the port?, he added.

The port trust is exploring possibilities for optimum utilisation of the land available on Willington island, where the port is situated. Unlike other ports, land is the major concern of Cochin port.

The port will also be developed as one of the best cruise destinations of Southeast Asia. Kochi will also be included in the route of domestic luxury shipping companies from the next season onwards. There will be voyages connecting Mumbai, Goa, Lakshadweep and Kochi.

Ramachandran expressed serious concern over the inordinate delay in finalising the rail alignment to the proposed Vallarpadam international container terminal (VICT) site. Some people at Manjummel are opposing the shortestalignment, hence the port trust is awaiting clearances from various central ministries.

He requested the state government to sort out the issue immediately. Otherwise, it would hamper the prospects of the project.

The first phase of VICT is likely to be commissioned by April 1, 2009, and the construction of railway line will take 24?30 months.

As per the contract with Dubai Port Worldwide (DPW), the railway connectivity should be established before April 1, 2009. He said that even after the deadline to start construction was over by September 2006, the alignment was not yet finalised. The state government should act on war footing to commence the construction at least by next January.

The port chairman urged the state government to provide VAT exemption to the proposed international bunkering terminal near the port. The finance minister had announced the exemption, but the order is still kept in abeyance due to unknown reasons.

Source: Business Standard, Chennai/ Kochi, October 11, 2006
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