Bangalore: A consortium led by Terminal Investment Ltd, an independent company promoted by Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. SA (MSC), the world’s second-biggest container shipping firm, has bid for the Rs1,300 crore container terminal project at the Union government-owned Ennore port in Tamil Nadu.
Booming sector: The Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai. India’s container traffic is estimated to rise to 21 million TEUs by 2016.
Terminal Investment has teamed up with three state-run firms — Shipping Corp. of India Ltd, Container Corp. of India Ltd and Central Warehousing Corp. Ltd—and Hind Terminals Pvt. Ltd to bid for the 1.5 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a year facility.
A TEU is the standard size of a container and is a common measure of capacity in the container business.
“We are looking for a container terminal presence in India,” said an executive at MSC who asked not to be named. MSC owns and operates about 376 container ships with a capacity to haul 12.5 million TEUs.
Ships owned by MSC call at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s biggest container port, and at Mundra port. Smaller feeder ships of the company also call at Chennai and Tuticorin ports.
Three members of the Terminal Investment consortium hold independent licences to run container trains in the country. These are Container Corp. of India, state-run Central Warehousing Corp. and Hind Terminals, along with MSC Agency (India) Pvt. Ltd, the Indian unit of MSC.
Hind Terminals is the Indian unit of Dubai-based shipping and logistics firm Sharaf Group.
About 20 consortia are in the fray to develop and operate the 30-year facility. These include DP World, PSA International Pte Ltd, APM Terminals Management BV, NYK Line, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, Sical Logistics Ltd, Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd and Adani Group.
PSA is bidding for the project along with Mumbai-based ABG Infralogistics Ltd, in which it holds a 11.8% stake.
These companies are attracted by the huge opportunity for shipping cargoes in steel containers in the world’s second fastest growing major economy.
The container cargo at India’s Union government-owned 12 major ports grew by 19% in the 12 months to March. Still, container penetration, which is the conversion of cargo moving in bulk into containers, is low in India compared with global standards.
Containerized cargo represents only about 30% by value and 55% by volume of India’s external trade. The world average is between 75% and 80% by volume.
India’s container traffic is estimated to rise to 21 million TEUs by 2016 from about 7.5 million TEUs now. New capacities, such as that planned at Ennore, are being created to cater to the projected demand in container traffic at Indian ports.
Ennore port is the only one among the 12 owned by the Union government that was set up under the Companies Act. The remaining 11 major ports function as trusts under the Major Port Trusts Act.
The bidder willing to share the highest proportion of his annual operating gross revenues with the government port will get the right to run the new terminal at Ennore.