New pipeline to boost bunker business in Colombo

Monday, 2 July 2012 00:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has scheduled to commence a new project of laying of new bunker fuel pipelines, on a priority basis to be used by all license holders, with enhanced efficiency and productivity.

This decision was made having realised the necessity of replacing the dilapidated existing bunker fuel pipeline, which is more than 60 years old and runs from the Bloemendhal Oil Terminal to the Port of Colombo

The project, jointly undertaken by the Civil Engineering Division and the Mechanical Works Division of SLPA, commenced last week.

It is being carried out under the direct supervision of SLPA Chairman Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama and was inaugurated by Deputy Minister of Ports and Highways Rohitha Abeygunawardena. The project which costs Rs. 250 million is scheduled to be completed in July 2013.

Abeygunawardena stated that with the completion of the new project, the bunkering process would run more efficiently with no interruption to timely operations of bunkering activities.

“Despite complaints which are raised against all the good deeds performed by the present Government, we are fully geared to go ahead with the rapid development process rightly guided by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to make Sri Lanka the fivefold hub in the areas of maritime, aviation, energy, commercial and knowledge as clearly stated in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ policy document,” he added.

Upon the declaration of Presidential grant of the land of eight acres, two roods and 21.44 perches which were within the declared limits of the Port of Colombo by the Supreme Court restoring the possession of the said facility to the SLPA, immediate steps were taken to enhance the bunker business in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, SLPA also entered into fresh agreements for the use of facilities within the port on equal terms with all parties licensed to supply bunkers.

Having taken over the premises, SLPA has initiated steps to satisfy the requirements of the holders of bunker license by utilising the common user facility at the Port of Colombo and the Bloemendhal Oil Terminal.

Jaya Container Terminals Limited – the Management Agency of the SLPA – entered into agreement with all 10 holders of bunker licenses to make available facilities at the Oil Terminal. To enhance the storage capacity to be shared by the license holders, a new storage tank with the capacity of 5,300 MT was also constructed at a cost of Rs. 70 million.

Accordingly, storage capacity has seen increased to almost 35,000 MT at the Oil Terminal and storage capacity for Heavy Fuel Oil of 380 cst viscosity (HFO 380 cst) and marine gas oil respectively. In addition, 5,200 MT storage capacity is available for Intermediate Fuel Oil of 180 cst viscosity (IFO 180 cst).

Until 2008, only the Dolphin Tanker Berth was available for berthing of oil tankers to discharge bunker fuel to the storage facilities. Sri Lanka Ports Authority has converted New North Pier as a multipurpose berth to accommodate oil tankers as an alternate berth which cost approximately Rs. 40 million. This has resulted faster turn round time of oil tankers and to avoid payment of demurrages to the ship owners due to non availability of a tanker berth.

At the time of taking over of the management of oil terminal, there was only one 2 ton capacity boiler for the heating of HFO 380 cst furnace oil. Delays were experienced to heat furnace oil when only available boiler was released for repairs. A new three ton boiler has been imported, installed and commissioned at a cost of Rs.20 Million to ensure uninterrupted loading of HFO 380 cst with the required temperature.

Engine pumps at the pump house of the Oil Terminal used for pumping of bunker fuel from the storage tanks to the bunker barges that were 15 to 35 years old are also in the process of replacement by the SLPA to maintain higher pumping rates to ensure higher productivity of the loading operation.

Accordingly, one engine pump for the loading of marine gas oil has already been installed at a cost of Rs. 16 million. Another engine pump for the pumping of HFO 380 cst will be purchased and installed at a cost of approximately Rs. 22 million within the next four to six months.

Steps will also be taken to replace two more old engine pumps for the pumping of furnace oil and marine gas oil with an approximate cost of Rs. 45 million to load two products simultaneously to the bunker barges whilst discharging of furnace oil in operation.

With a view to maintain adequate stocks of HFO 380 cst with required temperature to be loaded on to the bunker barges from the small tanks with the capacity of approximately 1,100 MT, heating coils have been installed to pump the furnace oil whenever required by the license holders without waiting for heating and loading of the product.

Steps are also being taken to install volume meters in the storage tanks which are used for the discharging and loading of bunker fuel to monitor loading and discharging operations from a Control Rook to ensure spilled free bunker operations.

Once the new pipelines are laid under the project that commenced on 13 June 2012, discharging and loading of furnace oil could be effected at a higher pumping rate, resulting in enhanced efficiency and productivity in bunker operation.

In addition to the infrastructure development and introduction of modern technology, steps are being taken to retrain human resource of the oil terminal as a dedicated, efficient and productive work force.

Construction work of the tank farm at the Port of Hambantota has been completed and ready for commencement of bunkering business within the next few months.

At present, the SLPA is taking all steps to develop Sri Lanka as a bunkering hub in order to assist developing maritime, aviation, energy, commercial and knowledge hubs identified in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ policy document.