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Port workers to boycott tankers with KRL crude

Our Bureau

Once the oil and oil products cargoes are shifted from the port, CPT stands to lose Rs 40-50 crore.

KOCHI, June 16

THE controversy between Cochin Port Trust (CPT) and Kochi Refineries Ltd (KRL) over the issue of setting up of single buoy mooring (SBM) has taken a new turn with the Kochi Thuramugha Samrakshana Samithi deciding to boycott oil tankers coming with crude for KRL from next month.

Speaking to newspersons, Mr M.M. Lawrence, Chairman of the Samithi, said that it was decided not to handle crude oil as well as other petroleum products meant for exports from KRL tankers with effect from July 1.

As part of this boycott, there would not be any pilotage, deployment of tugs to KRL vessels or administration in oil berths by port employees.

As part of further intensifying the agitation, it was also decided to hold a workers' convention by mobilising the participation of other trade unions in various sectors in protest against the move of KRL, he added.

``We know that boycott of vessels is suicidal, as it will affect both the KRL and the port. What we want is to get proper attention from higher-ups for the survival of the port,'' Mr P.M. Mohammed Haneef, Vice-Chairman of the Samithi, said.

The leaders, however, added that they were not against the expansion plans of KRL or the SBM to handle crude tankers.

What they want is that KRL should consider alternative proposals to set up this facility within the port for its future existence.

The port management has already forwarded suggestions on providing improved facilities for economical handling of crude.

The proposals put forward by the port authorities include increasing the depth at oil terminal from the current 11.7 metres to 14 metres so as to bring LR-II tankers, development of a new oil terminal south of Puthuvypeen near the Cochin Gut and developing the SBM facility off Puthuvypeen area, they said.

Those in favour of the Rs 1,00-crore SBM project argue that the transportation cost could be saved by constructing floating tanks in the sea for pumping crude directly to the refinery through pipelines.

But the same target could be achieved by improving the existing facilities at the port at a much lower cost.

Today, 80 per cent of the cargo in the port constitutes oil and oil products and once these cargoes are shifted from the port, CPT stands to lose Rs 40-50 crore, which would be a serious blow to its very existence in a few years.

Of the Rs 160 crore income of the port from various cargoes, Rs 70 crore is earned from crude and oil products, they said.

Hence, the impact and implication of SBM on the port would be much greater and it would affect not only the port but the entire economy of the State, they added.

The leaders also alleged that the State Government had shown undue haste in declaring Manakkodam area at Andhakaranazhi a minor port without taking into consideration all the implications of the issue.

The leaders also urged the Petroleum and Shipping Ministries to hold discussions in order to find an amicable solution to the issue.

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