Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], October 17 (ANI): The first-ever ship-to-ship (STS) transfer operation of LPG in the Indian Coast was undertaken by the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) on Saturday, informed the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways on Sunday.
According to the ministry, BPCL engaged service provider M/s Fendercare Marine to render the services at the offshore STS location.
The restricted draft in the river channel necessitates offloading of part cargo at neighbouring ports before calling at Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) or Kolkata Dock System (KDS) of Sysma Prasad Mookerjee Port Kolkata (erstwhile Kolkata Port Trust). Consequent to two-port discharge, vessels incur dead freight and additional steaming time, said the ministry.
It further stated that to obviate the inherent channel constraints, Sysma Prasad Mookerjee Port Kolkata (SMP Kolkata) has endeavoured to open up opportunities for importers to bring in Cape Size or Baby Cape vessels at the deep drafted anchorages located at Sagar, Sandheads and X Point and enable handling of fully laden dry bulk vessels through the deployment of Floating Cranes or ship cranes.
Over the years a good number of dry bulk vessels have been handled at the lighterage points, said the ministry, adding that due to the strategically advantageous location, HDC has witnessed incremental demand from trade in terms of catering to LPG, imported POL products and other liquid cargo.
Several discussions with the senior management of the Oil Manufacturing Companies like BPCL, IOCL, HPCL and other leading private importers of LPG and other liquid products pointed to the intrinsic benefits that can be harnessed through extending the facility of Ship-to-Ship Transfer (STS) of LPG/ Liquid Cargo at the Deep drafted anchorage points of SMP, Kolkata, said the ministry.
The Single Port Handling would not only enable to overcome draft restriction at Haldia thereby negating dead freight but also help in mobilization of more cargo thereby reducing unit costs.
HDC, SMP, Kolkata took a pioneering initiative to explore STS Operations of LPG within its limits to handle fully laden vessels and requested Customs Authorities to allow such operations.
The matter was pursued with Customs and they kindly considered the request and issued the necessary permission on April 26, 2021, allowing such STS Operations. Further, to promote lighterage operations in general, SMP Kolkata extended a substantial discount in terms of vessel and cargo related charges and an additional concession towards tug hire charges was extended by the port specifically for STS Operation at Sandheads.
As a result of this pioneering initiative, the first-ever STS Operations of LPG in the Indian Coast were undertaken by BPCL on Saturday.
The STS Operation for BPCL was earlier done at Male and by doing STS Operation at HDC, BPCL will save valuable foreign exchange. This Operation at HDC reduces the time taken for a daughter vessel by 7-9 days from BPCL's other location for STS operations which consequently entailing savings of around USD 3,50,000 per voyage on account of BPCL.
The instant STS operations are expected to open new business potential not only for the country's oldest riverine Major Port but also benefit the trade and country as a whole in terms of saving substantial foreign exchange.
Thus the STS operation at SMP, Kolkata is likely to emerge as a game-changer in the overall economics in the handling of imported LPG in the Indian Coast. (ANI)