TAMIL NADU

SCI oil tankers to conform to eco-norms

CHENNAI APRIL 15. The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is keen on building up a fleet of oil tanker vessels conforming to the latest environment-protection norms, particularly those concerning preservation of the marine flora and fauna, laid down by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

In tune with the objective and its "commitment to environment", the State-owned shipping major had recently acquired one of the most modern Aframax oil tankers, at a cost of $ 36 millions, from Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea.

"The double-hull vessel incorporates the latest features on environment protection, especially to avoid any oil leak when hit by another vessel," K.M. Joseph, the SCI Director (Bulk Carrier and Tanker division) told The Hindu here on Monday.

MT. Desh Bhakt, the vessel with 113928 million tonne (MT) DWT is the 41st tanker to join the SCI fleet, on March 26.

Speaking on-board the vessel during its maiden call, to Chennai port, he said, "the state-of-the-art vessel with a pump capacity of 7,500 CBM/hour would be plying in international trade. It is also equipped with a black box, similar to the device fitted in aircraft, to transmit signals and record the movements in the unfortunate event of being involved in an accident. With its induction, the SCI would meet the coverage of shipments for the Indian oil industry".

MT. Desh Bhakt, which called at the port on Sunday, completed the discharge of its 64,511 MT Malaysian crude oil cargo — for the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited — and sailed out of Chennai on Tuesday morning. The SCI, he added, was expecting the delivery of three more — MTs Desh Prem, Desh Rakshak and Desh Gaurav — Aframax tankers from Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The SCI, Mr. Joseph said, was also set to place order for a vessel similar to MT Desh Bhakt with the Cochin Shipyard, "incorporating the latest technological features". Detailing the existing fleet of oil tankers of the shipping company, "twelve of the crude tankers are fairly new, with nine of them having double hull".

The firm was also awaiting Centre's nod for acquiring two Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), which he explained, was "the most economical mode of transporting crude oil cargo for the oil companies (refineries)".

On the plans of the SCI with regard to purchase of container vessels, Mr. Joseph said, such acquisition now would "not be a very viable option", particularly against the backdrop of the recessionary economic trends globally". However, the SCI was tying up with other container ship operators for slot-sharing arrangement, he pointed out.

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