Chennai Port, located strategically on the East Coast close to the international mainline vessel routes and also a part of the coastal cargo routes along the coast, aims to become a major bunkering hub in India. Presently, a small 30-metre facility at the port’s Bharathi Dock, operated by IOCL, serves bunkers to ships calling at the port and at the outer anchorage through barges.
Considering the potential for growth in volume of bunker fuels and the fact that the introduction of GST has given a level playing field to all Indian ports providing bunkers, Chennai Port proposes to develop a 181-metre long and 15-metre wide berth as a multi-user facility near the oil dock, that can handle two 5,000 DWT medium-size barges or tankers of up to 10,000 DWT for handling other liquid cargoes, including edible oils. The berth will be connected to the shore through a trestle for carrying pipelines for bunker fuels and other liquid cargoes. The pipelines will lead to a common user tank farm for bunker fuel and other liquid cargoes, to be developed on land close to the terminal.
After assessing the potential of the project, the Ministry of Shipping has provided a Rs 22 crore grant under the Sagarmala programme. The proposed bunkering terminal is expected to be a viable proposition considering the demand for different grades of bunker fuels from ships calling at the new government and private ports like Kamarajar Port, Kattupalli Port and Krishnapatnam Port in the vicinity of Chennai Port.
Work has commenced on the terminal. To become operational by September 2019, it would be able to handle 1 MTPA of liquid cargoes, especially bunker fuel, and would be competing with major international players like Colombo, Singapore and Fujairah, said a release.