Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will invest around Rs 900 crore to acquire vessels during the ongoing fiscal.

This acquistion will include a Suezmax tanker and other offshore vessels. The shipping company has already bought an offshore vessel this fiscal.

Asked about the plans of buying vessels despite a lull in the industry, B B Sinha, director (personnel and administration) said, “At the moment, there isn’t much demand for ships and prices are low. Therefore, this is the right moment to purchase vessels (from the secondhand market).”

Last weekend, SCI floated a bid to procure a secondhand Suezmax tanker of about 140,000 to 160,000 Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT). As per the details in the tender document, SCI wants the vessel to be in range of 7-11 years old. “Vessels with maximum displacement of 125,000 metric tonne, loadable quantity of cargo should be minimum 95,000 mt, at 12.5 M salt water draught,” reads the document.

As the term Suezmax suggests, the ship will be largest in size to transit the Suez Canal. The vessel is likely to be inducted in SCI’s fleet later this year. One of the conditions specified is that the ship should be constructed at reputed and experienced shipyards. Additionally, “Major equipment should be of reputed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) manufactured; Licensee make & model excluded, except Korean & Japanese,” states the tender document.

Recently, the SCI purchased a secondhand three-year-old remotely operated support vessel from Greatship Global Offshore Services. It is close to buying another used supply vessel from a Chinese company.

Among SCI’s other plans for expansion is venturing into inland waterways by setting up a subsidiary. The focus of the new organisation will be to have small barges on Ganga river between Varanasi and Kolkata. At a later stage, it will expand inland waterways operations to other rivers and regions of the country.

The purchase of assets is despite poor first-quarter financial results. Revenues in the first quarter stood at Rs 840.47 crore, down from Rs 1,056.46 crore during corresponding quarter last fiscal. Net profit too fell to Rs 55.91 crore from Rs 163.54 crore.

On BSE, the stock price closed at Rs68.25 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Captain Anoop Kumar Sharma, managing director of Essar Shipping Ltd, was appointed as new chairman and managing director of SCI.