Giving a shot in the arm to the initiatives of the Cochin Port Trust (CPT), the Cochin customs authority has streamlined and simplified procedures to attract more ships for bunkering at the port.
In a key decision, the powers for giving customs clearance for bunkering and other related operations have been delegated to assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners.
Also, it will now be possible to file applications and get clearance manually even after regular office hours as well as on holidays. This will enable bunkering operations to be carried out on a 24x7 basis. The same procedures will be applicable for providing store supplies and water to vessels. The local traders inthe region would benefit significantly by this, said K N Raghavan, the commissioner of customs.
The changes will permit barges engaged in bunkering operations to supply fuel to multiple vessels instead of the existing restriction that only single ship can be supplied during a trip. The vessel receiving the fuel need not be berthed at the port, but can be anywhere within Indian Customs Waters.
"These changes will attract even those ships which pass through the neighbouring international route to undertake bunkering here though they may not otherwise touch the port. There are about 70 ships which pass through the international route adjacent to Kochi every day," Raghavan said.
CPT has already introduced single-window clearance for documentation relating to bunkering operations as part of initiatives to make the port a major bunkering hub in the region. The port had clocked bunker sales of 3 lakh tonnes in the just-concluded financial year, significantly up from 0.6 lakh tonnes achieved in the previous year.
The Kerala government had also announced some tax incentives to promote bunkering from Cochin port. The oil companies and steamer agents have welcomed the decision.