At a time when a majority of the country’s major ports showed a decline in cargo-handling during the first quarter of 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 lockdown, New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) recorded a growth of more than 4 per cent.
The port attributed the growth to the Cntre’s decision to fill the petroleum crude reserves in the country.
According to the Indian Ports Association (IPA), only NMPT and Mormugao port recorded positive growth in cargo-handling in the first quarter of 2020-21, among the other major ports in the country.
The cargo-handling at NMPT increased to 9.29 million tonnes in Q1 of 2020-21 as against 8.93 million tonnes in the corresponding period of 2019-20, recording a growth of 4.03 per cent. Barring Mormugao, other major ports witnessed a decline of 15-40 per cent in cargo-handling during the period.
Asked about the reason for the growth, AV Ramana, Chairman of NMPT, explained: global crude oil price was at a historic low during the lockdown. NMPT was aware of the fact that the strategic storage caverns of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL) at Padur in Udupi district were yet to be filled, he told BusinessLine.
Capitalising on the opportunity, the port coordinated with ISPRL and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and facilitated the import of crude oil to fill the empty caverns.
Due to this reason, NMPT handled surplus cargo in the first quarter of 2020-21 compared with the corresponding period of 2019-20, he said.
The total crude oil-handling stood at 4.21 million tonnes during Q1FY2020-21 as against 2.56 million tonnes in Q1FY2019-20. Of this, the share of the ISPRL crude stood at 2.48 million tonnes. No crude oil was handled for ISPRL in the first quarter of 2019-20.
M Venkatesh, Managing Director of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), had stated in April that the SPM (single-point mooring) facility of MRPL under the jurisdiction of NMPT was used during April and May to unload the crude for filling the ISPRL caverns.
The Petroleum Ministry had asked ISPRL to work closely with public sector oil companies such as MRPL, BPCL and IOCL to achieve the target of filling up Mangaluru and Padur caverns by taking advantage of the low crude oil prices in the international market at that time.
ISPRL has a 1.5-million tonne storage facility in Mangaluru and 2.5-million tonne facility at Padur.
Source: The Hindu Business Line