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Port congestion put shippers in tough situation

Port congestion put shippers in tough situation

LAHORE: Port congestion and relating infrastructure constraints have put the shippers of strategically important supplies in a tough situation besides economic losses to the nation as the ministries of energy and maritime affairs like to run port operations to their preferences.

This results in under utilization of port infrastructure and an unnecessary wait for ships and resultant heavy demurrages that ultimately stand transferred to consumers and sometimes even thre­a­ten the supply chain with disruptions, said an official.

He added that the two ministries had been in contact to put in place standard operating procedures (SOPs) to operate the country’s port facilities and supply chain to optimal potential but to no avail.

In a working paper submitted to the ministers for energy and maritime affairs, the Directorate General of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has pointed out difficulties being faced by the oil industry which in recent weeks kept lined up in dozens to wait for discharging various petroleum products (POL).

The two ports in Karachi — Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Fauji Oil Terminal (Fotco) — handle POL imports and are managed in a way that crude oil and petrol are predominantly handled at KPT, while diesel, furnace oil and some petrol cargoes are berthed at Fotco. There is only one jetty at Fotco and three are at KPT. Fotco can handle 14-15 vessels in a month, which is sufficient only for diesel and petrol cargoes.

However, due to six-seven cargoes of furnace oil arriving in a month during the summer season, the berthing sequence cannot be followed on a ‘first come first serve’ or any other basis. These limitations compel the petroleum division to monitor the cargo berthing at Fotco in view of the overall supply situation of the three products across the country which then intervenes through the maritime affairs ministry for prioritising certain cargos to avoid supply disruption.