Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL) has successfully commissioned its single point mooring (SPM) system off the Tannirbavi coast.

MRPL set up the Rs.1,044 crore SPM, providing 30-meter draft that can handle very large crude carriers (VLCC) and set up a booster pumping station within the Mangalore port.

With the facility, MRPL can receive crude in Suez Max (large ships, loaded, which can move through the Suez Canal) or VLCCs, whose freight economics are more economically viable and allow access to West African and Latin American crude. It will decongest existing berths at New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), enhance MRPL’s refinery operations and reduce demurrage (waiting charges for loaded ships). It will also help get crude for Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Limited (ISPRL)’s underground cavern for crude storage in Mangalore, MRPL said in a communication to the BSE. While the single point mooring system has been commissioned, access to the VLCCs that arrive at the SPM for unloading crude requires appropriate tugs.

P. P. Upadhya, Managing Director, told The Hindu that “The port has to provide adequate support….I am waiting for them to come up with that. From our side, it is ready. Now, they have to do it, that’s all,” he said.

P. Tamilvanan, Chairman, New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), said the SPM has had three trials, with the first in February this year, the third last week and one in the period in between.

He said, “We need exclusive tugs. These must have a platform so that the gangway from the ship will rest on it. We are going in for tenders (for acquiring the tugs)”. Sources said that streamlining the SPM took nine months and monsoons were not the right time to operate the SPM.

An SPM is built when a port cannot take a VLCC due to lack of depth (“draft”) in the water. It is a buoy located in the sea at a distance from the coast and it allows large vessels to load or unload cargo. Tugs are smaller vessels that allow access to the VLCC. They also guide large vessels into the port.