17 June 2012

Suspension of bunkering business: $15 million drained out

Bunker sale to ships calling at the country's prime maritime port of Chittagong remains suspended for about one month following the haul of large quantity of furnace oil by law enforcers at Anu Majhir Ghat area in the city ahead of the delivery of the consignment to unauthorised quarters.

Due to suspension of the bunkering business since May 20 the country has been devoid of a minimum earning worth US$ 15 million in foreign exchange, according to estimates of the shipping business.

Normally there is a sale of more than 20,000 tonnes of furnace and diesel oil a month to the foreign and local ships calling at the port. Furnace oil, the main consumption of the seagoing vessels, is sold at $ 90 a tonne and marine diesel at $950, as per rate of state-owned Jamuna Oil Company, which is entitled to supply the fuel to the ships in the port.

Jamuna Oil, a subsidiary of BPC (Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation), under the ministry of energy, power and mineral resources, stopped bunkering to the ships years back for reasons best known to them, an official of Chittagong Port Authority said.

By that time the business developed in the private sector as a group of bunker suppliers started in a limited scale supply of furnace oil to the foreign bulk cargo and some local feeder vessels, which also remains stopped since May 20 last. The private traders procure the oil from the ship breaking yards at Sitakunda seacoast of Chittagong.

Executive director of Rainbow Shipping Lines and senior vice chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association Kamal Hayat has said, bunker sale in Chittagong Port remains practically suspended for a month while the country is loosing at least $15 million a month on account of bunker supply only due to negligence of proper authority in the government to this hugely potential sector.

He said that Bangladesh can supply a good quantity of furnace oil of the scrap ships to the seagoing ships in Chittagong Port and its outer anchorage, as well as other industrial plants, if rules are formulated for environmentally procuring, storing and supplying of the fuel from the ships brought for dismantling, through the qualified and trained workers now engaged at the shipbreaking yards.

Regarding the seizure of furnace oil delivered from the Padma Oil Company's Guptakhal Depot at Patenga he said, "Incidents of misappropriation of the government-imported oil are nothing new. It is for the first time that it has been detected by the law enforcers but this illicit trading has been done over the last 10 years. But that should stand on the way of growing up a huge potential sector."

He said that a group of corrupt officials of the oil marketing companies and influential people are involved in the process of taking delivery of furnace, bitumen etc in the name of different industrial plants by submitting false papers.

The government is importing huge quantity of furnace oil from abroad every year. In the last April also the government decided to import 0.12 million tonnes of furnace oil to meet fuel demand of the quick rental power plants, he said adding that a good percentage of our furnace oil demand can be met if the oil available from the scrap ships is procured through proper policy guidelines.

Source: the financial express. By Pankaj Dastider. 16 June 2012

No comments: