Infrastructure needs to catch up

India’s energy needs are going to rise, as a result import volume of liquid bulk is certainly going to increase in the future and infrastructure needs to catch up to support this demand

What is your view on liquid bulk trade scenario in India, and existing infrastructure catering to the segment?

India is a large importer of crude oil and vegetable oil. India imports more than 200 million tonnes of mineral oil worth over $100 billion and about 14 million tonnes of vegetable oil valued at about $11 billion. Liquid bulk imports are spread across ports on the eastern and western coasts. While there is infrastructure shortage, in terms of installed capacity, tank farms, road network, etc., but going forward, with increase in import volume, India needs to invest in infrastructure expansion.

What are the major infrastructure related challenges?

Major challenges include berthing, shortage of shore tanks, lack of allied infrastructure and ship turnaround time, and transportation of liquid bulk cargo to hinterland. There is even bigger challenge in case of transportation of hazardous chemicals to the hinterland. The government should come out with a holistic policy from a long-term perspective in order to encourage the private sector to invest. Coastal shipping and use of inland waterways could be helpful.

What are the major trends do you foresee for liquid bulk sector in the short and long run?

Mineral oil and vegetable oil constitute the top two largest liquid bulk imports in India. We expect our import dependence on crude oil will worsen from the present 75 per cent to well over 80 percent in the next 5 years. Similarly, vegetable oil consumption has been rising rapidly. In last 5 years, vegetable oil imports have increased by about 1 million tons each year. India exports processed and refined products of crude oil, hence exports about 5,00,000 to 6,00,000 tonnes of castor oil. Besides, India has huge imports of specialty petrochemicals and other chemicals, including

What are the missing links, demands and pain points for liquid bulk handling in India?

India needs better coordination between ports and customs; also there are unnecessary delays on account of confusion over interpretation of EXIM policy, product classification and at time valuation issues for customs tariff, sampling and analysis of cargo. All these have to be highly standardized and implemented uniformly across the country. Quick resolution of disputes is critical. The country needs more transparency and time bound clearance of customs documents.

What kind of gap exists in handling chemical and hazardous liquid bulk cargo?

There is an urgent need to come up with proper infrastructure and wider network of roadways to meet the increasing demands of the chemicals and other hazardous cargoes. There is also lack of basic knowledge in handling chemicals and hazardous liquid bulk cargoes, which needs to be corrected and more safety norms to be introduced.

What is the growth registered at Indian ports in liquid bulk segment in the recent past? What kind of demand is expected in the future?

Over the years significant growth has been registered at ports in this segment and the demand in the near future is expected to grow by about 20 per cent per annum, at least for the next 7 to 10 years. Time has come to wake up to realities of the ever increasing liquid bulk trade, and there is a need to create and add infrastructure, including seamless customs and port operations. Contribution of liquid bulk volume to the total cargo volume is approximately to the tune of 35-40 per cent for the ports, and the contribution to the revenue of ports is about 55-65 per cent.