Mumbai: Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd will hire a global container terminal operator for its planned 2.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (teu) a year facility at the Rewas port in Maharashtra.
A teu is the standard size of a container and is a common measure of capacity in the container business.
“We don’t have expertise in running container terminals,” said K.V. Natarajan, president, Rewas Ports Ltd. “Hence, we plan to have a strategic alliance with a global specialist in running container terminals or a container shipping firm and have started a dialogue in that direction.” He declined to elaborate.
Rewas Ports, which is 65% owned by various group companies operating under Reliance Industries, is building an all-weather deep draught (depth) port just 10km south of the central-government owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s busiest container port.
Amma Lines Ltd holds a 24% stake in Rewas Ports, while the balance 11% equity is owned by Maharashtra Maritime Board, the maritime regulator that oversees the development of ports owned by the state government.
Rewas port will be built in three phases. The first phase development costing Rs5,114 crore will involve 10 cargo handling berths with a capacity to handle 55 million tonnes (mt) of cargo. The new port will start operations on a 50-year contract beginning October 2010.
Since it is a port owned by the state government, Rewas Ports will be free to fix its own tariffs without consulting a regulator. However, the tariffs for cargo handling services at the 12 Union government-owned ports are set by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports.
When fully operational by 2040, Rewas port will have 70 berths with a capacity to handle 457mt of cargo, which is almost equal to the total cargo handled at the 12 Union government ports in the country.
These 12 ports handled 464mt of cargo in the 12 months to March 2007, compared with a capacity of 508mt.
Natarajan said that Rewas Ports will float global tenders in September to award the dredging work at the port that is estimated to cost about Rs1,800 crore.
The port will have a depth of 14.5 metres to start with and this will be increased to 20 metres in a phased manner.
The dredging contract at Rewas will be the biggest of such work ever executed in the country, bigger than the dredging work for the Sethusamudram ship channel project. It involves dredging 120 million cubic metres of stone, mud, sand and silt from the seabed.
A consortium of banks led by ICICI Bank Ltd has agreed to lend about Rs3,400 crore for the phase one development of the port, Natarajan said.
According to the union shipping ministry, the container cargo traffic at Indian ports is expected to grow to 12.5 million teu by 2011-12. Of this, 93% or 11.7 million teu are expected to be handled by the 12 Union government-owned ports.
The balance would be handled at ports owned by the state governments and which are being developed with private investments such as Rewas, Mundra, Pipavav, Hazira, Gangavaram, Pondicherry, Vizhinjam, Vijaydurg and Dighi, among others.