India keen to
drill for oil off Sri Lanka
Indian oil firms
are keen to explore for oil and gas in Sri Lanka's offshore waters
bordering India, Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ram
Naik said last week.
blocks are producing a lot of oil and gas," Naik said. "So
we feel if Sri Lankan waters are surveyed properly Sri Lanka might
also find oil and gas"
Naik said he
had discussed the possibility of joint oil exploration in talks
with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo.
like to be given some blocks for exploration, he said speaking at
the launch of Lanka IOC, the local subsidiary of Indian Oil Corp.
IOC plans to
invest up to $100 million to lease and refurbish the huge World
War 2 vintage Trincomalee oil tank farm and set up a petroleum distribution
network on the island.
the event as the opening of a "new energy bridge" between
the two countries.
marketing the next goal in co-operation will be oil exploration
Sri Lanka could use Indian expertise to drill for oil in her offshore
waters where the geological structure is similar to India's Cauvery
basin in which India is producing oil and gas and recently made
huge discoveries of gas in deep waters, he said.
Power and Energy Karu Jayasuriya said the government will shortly
invite foreign oil companies to drill for oil in offshore blocks
once the new draft Petroleum Resources Act, that has just been presented
to parliament, is passed.
Naik said the
IOC deal in Sri Lanka would provide energy security to the island.
In the run-up
to the Iraq war India offered to supply Sri Lanka's oil requirements
in the event of any disruption in shipments.
The 99 storage
tanks in China Bay, Trincomalee, when refurbished could store up
to one million tonnes of petroleum products, which would be "an
important asset for any country," Naik said.
It is more
important than the chain of retail outlets that IOC plans to set
up in Sri Lanka, Naik said.
IOC is also
keen to get into the LPG and aviation fuel market in Sri Lanka.
of the proposed pipeline to bring petroleum products across the
Palk Strait from India to Sri Lanka would depend on whether the
potential increase in consumption in the island would justify the
cost of the project, Naik also said.
the opening of IOC's first retail outlet at Maligawatta marks the
realisation of one of the government's policy objectives of reforming
and liberalising the energy sector to offer consumers a better choice
in price and quality of service.
LIOC will initially
set up 100 retail outlets islandwide, 13 of which would be in Colombo.
The risky work
of harbour pilots
the side of a merchant vessel, clinging on to a small rope ladder,
in rough seas outside Colombo harbour can be a risky business.
in Colombo, like their counterparts elsewhere, risk life or limb
on a regular basis as they guide the constant flow of merchant vessels
that call at the port.
Their job is
to provide safe navigation for vessels entering or leaving ports.
problem is to board a ship in the open sea," said Captain Niresh
Palihena, one of the 17 pilots working for the Sri Lanka Ports Authority
"Both the pilot boat and the ship are moving. It is extremely
risky - if you slip you'll die."
board an incoming vessel about two or three miles outside the harbour
about 25-30 ships a day. Usually, four pilots work on a 24-hour
shift. Sleeping quarters in the Pilot Station, an unmistakable round
building at the entrance to the port, allow them to rest in between
slip and fall while climbing aboard a vessel risk getting crushed
between the boat and the vessel's hull.
fall into the water the ship's propellor can suck you in - that's
one of the fears we have," said Capt. Dasarath Dolapihilla.
"When transferring from one moving vessel to another you need
to watch the crest and trough. We have to rely a lot on what we
hang on to - that's the ladder."
ladder is a very special thing - it is governed by International
Maritime Organisation standards and surveyed once a year.
are near escapes every day," said Capt. Ravi Jayaratne. He
recalled two accidents - once a pilot fell when the ladder broke
and fractured his leg. Another time the pilot - a good swimmer -
fell into the water and managed to swim under the pilot launch and
emerge from the other side.
risk is from SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Crews of
ships coming from countries affected by SARS have been banned from
going ashore. The only protection for pilots who board such vessels
is to wear a mask.
compulsory in Colombo, Trincomalee and Galle although frequent callers
do not need pilots.
to have a Master's Certificate - they ought to have been a Master
Mariner or Captain of merchant ships, said Capt. Nihal Keppetipola,
Harbour Master of the SLPA.
joined the pilot service in 1990 having previously sailed aboard
various ships - tankers, general cargo vessels and bulk carriers.
He became deputy Harbour Master in 1999 and, by a quirk of fate,
was promoted Harbour Master later that year when his predecessor
has been in existence in Colombo since 1815 when the incumbent was
known as the Master Attendant.
Master, Keppetipola is in overall in charge of all the ports with
senior deputy Harbour Masters in Colombo and in Trincomalee and
Galle, the latter two being 'one-man shows' where there is no night
a pilot boards a vessel he becomes the servant of the Master or
ship's Captain and provides advice to the Master, which can be accepted
or ignored," said Capt. Keppetipola.
Given the small
size of Colombo port - built during the era of sailing ships - and
the huge size of modern cargo ships, bringing a giant container
vessel into the harbour can be a nerve-wracking affair.
Many of the
accidents that have happened in Colombo occurred after engine failure.
A fully loaded container ship moving even at 10 knots takes a long
time to stop. Even when the engines are switched off its forward
momentum keeps the vessel moving - unless engines are reversed.
engines don't work the only way to stop is to hit whatever is in
front of you or else drop anchor which is not effective - it will
slow you down at best," explained Captain Palihena. "The
moment you don't have speed the ship has no steering. The ship also
reacts to the wind."
in coastal waters is different from ocean navigation.
to know the local currents, tides, weather patterns and winds,"
explained Capt. Dolapihilla. "Our job is a verbal job - to
provide guidance."Pilots must monitor a ship's course and speed
and, once in the port, work with tugs and mooring crew to help berth
the vessel."The pilot is needed to co-ordinate the work and
advise the Master," Dolapihilla said.Most pilots are over 40
years of age. The job provides an opportunity for seafarers who
rise to the rank of Captain to work ashore after sailing the high
seas for years while retaining their links with the ocean.
sailing for so many years it is one of the opportunities we get
closest to sailing," said Dolapihilla.
simulator at CINEC
International Nautical and Engineering College, known as the "CINEC
Maritime Campus" has acquired one of the latest versions of
a Ship's Bridge Manoeuvring Simulator and an Engine Room Simulator.
Campus, which has been relocated recently to the IT Park, Millennium
Drive at Malabe, is now complete with lecture halls, workshops,
laboratories and a Simulator Centre.
of simulators in Maritime Education and Training has long been recognized
as essential to enhance the competency of ship officers," said
Capt. Aldric Pieterz.
"It is in this context that the CINEC Maritime Campus invested
in its modern Simulator Centre encompassing the latest technological
advancements in ships, bridges and engine rooms."
Bridge Manoeuvring Simulator has two student stations and an independently
manned Instructor Station.
meets with international regulations and conventions and is extensively
used to enhance the competency of senior navigating officers in
ship handling as well as watch keeping for junior navigating officers.
It is also used for training port pilots and tug operators.
is also used for customer specified training, research and development
of ports and harbours and can be used to conduct trial manoeuvres
of vessels for performance evaluation," Pieterz said.
An Engine Room
Simulator combined with the Engine Control Room, Electrical System
and Auxiliary Machinery too is available for training.
managed by the Ceylinco Group of Companies, hopes to attract foreign
students and already students from the Maldives and Poland have
followed its courses.
is now targeting students from India, Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh
to attend future courses.
Port users commend
The hatch covers
are off and containers are lifted from cargo bays and lowered onto
prime movers even before ships are berthed at the Jaya Container
Terminal these days, reflecting a marked improvement in productivity.
unloading even before the harbour pilot gets off the vessel,"
a port spokesman told a Sunday Times reporter during a recent visit.
Up to four
pier side cranes were used on the Maersk Georgia which was observed
during the visit.
got underway while the vessel was still manoeuvring alongside JCT
3 and even before the mooring ropes had been secured.
The new efficiency
was a result of the drive to improve productivity at the port and
incentives paid to stevedoring crews for achieving specified box
handling rates and vessel turnaround times.
box handling was markedly slower with the same reporter seeing gantry
crane operators holding boxes until prime movers arrived underneath
or the vehicles idling while the gantry cranes lifted the containers
from the vessel hold.
did not have the political backing to push through productivity
improvements in the face of opposition by politically influential
have commended the recent achievements at the JCT and the Navigation
Managing Director of the Colombo office of Maersk Sealand, the world's
largest container operator, said JCT has "demonstrated its
ability to plan and get vessels in and out in a seamless process
under tight time constraints."
He said in a
recent letter to Sri Lanka Ports Authority chairman Parakrama Dissanayake
that "the fact that you personally went twice to the quayside
to monitor operations have not gone unnoticed and from our conversations
with JCT operational staff it has served as a great inspiration".
He also expressed satisfaction for the services rendered on the
vessel MV 'Mumkebo Maersk' in which the JCT team achieved a vessel
productivity of 114.48 moves per hour.
service through Colombo
Wan Hai and Hapag-Lloyd have launched a new shipping service called
the SRX Service through the Port of Colombo.
The first vessel
of the new service to call in Colombo was MV LT Power of Evergreen.
This is a weekly caller that calls every Sunday.
that had been deployed by the new service are MV QI Yun He (Cosco),
MV Wan Hai 262 (Wan Hai), and MV Eagle Express of Hapag Lloyd.
The port rotation
is Singapore/Port Kelang/Jeddah/Port Said/Hodaidah/ Tuticorin/Colombo/
prices fall: LMS versus LMS
in Colombo have fallen after the entry of Lanka Maritime Services,
which broke the monopoly held by Lanka Marine Services.
pleased to note that Lanka Maritime Services has made a difference
in the bunker market in Sri Lanka," said Mohamed Reza, managing
director, Sri Lanka Shipping Co, its parent firm.
They sold twenty
percent of the Marine Gas Oil stocks brought from BP in Singapore
off the floating storage tanker LMS Ramboda in two days at less
than $ 300 a metric tonne, he said.
Till then the
price had been $340 and the disparity in prices of MGO between Singapore
and Colombo about $100.
selling MGO at $340 per tonne when the price of MGO in Singapore
had been about $230 per tonne.
Services began selling bunkers on May 19 after it got a private
bunker operator licence from the Power and Energy Ministry under
the government policy of liberalizing bunkering.
bunkering was a monopoly of Lanka Marine Services, the former subsidiary
of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation that was acquired by the John
Keells conglomerate last year.
said bunker prices had not fallen as much as expected despite the
privatisation of Lanka Marine Services under the government's privatization
and liberalisation programme.
is keen to promote competition in the bunker industry, enabling
users of bunker products to buy cheaper bunker fuels and to exploit
Colombo's strategic location almost astride the main East-West shipping
route across the Indian Ocean.
The high cost
of bunkering and shortage of supplies had been a constant complaint
among lines using Colombo. Bunker prices in Colombo had been among
the highest in the world before the state monopoly was privatized
last year. Lanka Maritime Services operates the barge, LMS Ramboda,
with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes.