Rooppur rail link contract signed

A Bangladesh-Indian joint venture is to build a new 26.5 kilometre railway link from the Rooppur nuclear power plant to Ishwardi under a contract signed in Dhaka on 10 July. The contract is to be completed within 18 months.

Construction of Bangladesh’s first nuclear power unit – a Russian-designed VVER-1200, which is being constructed by JSC AtomStroyExport (ASE) – began at Rooppur in November 2017. Earlier this week a construction licence was issued for Rooppur unit 2, with first concrete now expected to be poured on 14 July.

The contract between Bangladesh Railway and the joint venture of Bangladesh companies Standard Engineers Ltd and Castle Construction Ltd and Indian company GPT Infrastructure was signed in the presence of Bangladesh Minister for Railways Mazibul Haque, who said the rail link would be needed to support the construction project.

“For the construction of the Rooppur nuclear power plant, we will need to transport heavy machineries and instruments through a freight train. Hence, the construction of a new railway link is very important,” the minister said, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

The contract includes the construction of 22km of main railway tracks, a 4.5km loop line, a station, 13 level crossings and seven box culverts, as well as the purchase and establishment of a computer-based signalling system. It is worth a total of BDT2976 million (USD35 million), and will form part of a network linking the Rooppur plant to the sea ports of Chittagong and Mongla.

Kolkata-based GPT Infrastructure said its share of the joint venture is 34%.

Russia, Bangladesh and India signed a memorandum on cooperation in the implementation of the Rooppur nuclear power plant project in March, setting a framework for the interaction of ASE, Indian and Bangladeshi experts in the implementation of works related to the project. Under the agreement, Indian companies can be involved in construction and installation works, the supply of materials and equipment of a non-critical category in the interests of the project.

Source: WORLD NUCLEAR NEWS

China’s port restrictions cause berthing disruptions

A wave of stricter port restrictions in south China has left steel producers searching for alternative ports to allow them to berth vessels carrying their imported metallurgical coal cargoes.

A south China steel producer, which typically berths its vessels at Fangcheng port, has been prevented from doing so. An east China steel producer has been trying to get clearance to berth a cargo of Australian premium mid-volatile metallurgical coal at Wenzhou port in Zhejiang province but has now been denied entry. Both steel producers are scrambling to find an alternative. Another south China steel producer might be barred from taking any more imported coal in the following months as port import quotas have nearly been reached, sources said.

“For Chinese steelmakers, especially those in the south, it is no longer a matter of prices but of which ports will actually allow them to berth,” a China coal sales manager said. “At the moment, Jingtang port in Hebei province is stocked full with cargoes, as it is one of the few ports that actually allow vessels to berth and unload with minimal disruptions.”

Trading firms have been particularly disadvantaged by these new restrictions. At Rizhao port in Shandong province, Chinese customs have allowed trading firms to unload cargoes only if they can provide proof that the cargo will eventually be sold to a buyer. “They are essentially preventing traders from stockpiling cargoes at the port,” a Zhejiang-based trader said. “At the same time there have been limits placed on trader sales. Traders can only offload and offer cargoes in the port that they are based in, instead of offering from various other ports, which limits the number of sales options that they have.”

At least two to three cargoes of distressed premium mid-volatile hard metallurgical coal are currently held by Chinese trading firms, being offered in the spot market at huge discounts in a US$184 – 185/t cfr China range as they struggle to find a home. In contrast, the current Argus assessment for premium hard low volatile metallurgical coal loading in the normal 15 – 60 day window is US$199.60/t cfr north China.

These port restrictions are not new but have been escalated. Since last year steel producers and trading firms were already reporting a spate of measures imposed by Chinese customs in an attempt to reduce coal imports into China. This includes restricting the clearance of coal cargoes with high sulfur or ash content on grounds of environmental protection and extending the time required for cargoes to obtain clearance from customs officials, among other limitations. Ports have also imposed annual volume quotas for coal imports. Once these quotas are exceeded buyers will not be allowed to import metallurgical coal for the remainder of the year.

These measures are aimed at indirectly discouraging Chinese buyers from importing coal from overseas. “An outright ban will be a bad idea because it opens the government up to criticism,” a Chinese trader said. “So, these indirect methods are best.”

The restrictions have added to the woes of Chinese metallurgical coal buyers, which have already been hit by higher import costs as a result of a depreciating Chinese yuan after continuing trade tensions between US and China hit sentiment in foreign exchange markets.

Typhoon Maria is also forecast to batter east China for most of the day up until 12 July. But some ports in the region, including Shanghai and Zhoushan, have remained open and are largely unaffected.

Source: WORLD COAL

Vostochny port handles record coal in 1H18

Vostochny port, a stevedoring comoany in Primorye (Russia), handled 12.3 million t of coal in the first half of 2018, 5% more than in the same corresponding period in 2017.

This is reportedly an all-time record for the company which specialises in handling coal for exports.

This year, Vostochny port shipped coal to South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

The company unloaded 161 400 gondola cars of coal in the first half of 2018, including 125 600 or 78% innovative gondola cars with increased capacity. The company handled 288 vessels.

Source: WORLD COAL

Growth in South Eastern Railway’s freight earnings

During the first three months i.e. April-June of current financial year (2018-19), South Eastern Railway has earned Rs. 3121.58 crore from originating freight traffic which is Rs. 235.53 crore more than the corresponding period of last year i.e. 2017-18 thus registering a growth of 8.16 %.

This growth in freight earnings has been possible due to increase in freight loading during the above period. Coal loading during April-June of the current financial year has been 8.10 million tonnes which is a growth of 61.35% in comparison to the corresponding period of last year surpassing the Railway Board’s target by 5.88%. The other major components of freight loading were 18.71 million tonnes of Iron Ore, 3.75 million tonnes of Pig-Iron & Finished Steel, 2.94 million tonnes of Cement, 1.20 million tonnes of Merchandised Goods etc.

South Eastern Railway’s total freight loading during April-June of the current financial year has been 36.49 million tonnes as against 35.95 million tonnes loaded during the corresponding period of last year recording a growth of 1.50%.

Source: THE ECHO OF INDIA

China to boost rail freight by 30% by 2020

China to boost rail freight by 30% by 2020

10th july 2018

China will boost its rail freight capacity by 2020 and raise the volume of goods delivered by trains by as much as 30 percent, an environment ministry official said on Thursday, as the country grapples with rising vehicle pollution.
Ding Yan, vice-director of the Vehicle Emissions Control Center under the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said trucks produce 13 times more pollution per unit of cargo than trains.
While China has been making efforts to discourage road freight, particularly in the heavily polluted Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, it still accounted for 76.8 percent of total cargo deliveries in 2017.
Though the government took action to restrict the transportation of coal by road, the share of rail in total freight volumes rose just 0.1 percentage point to 7.7 percent in 2017, Ding said in comments published by the environment ministry on Thursday.
To boost rail freight by 30 percent by the end of the decade, the government will charge higher fees and introduce more stringent monitoring procedures to try to discourage road deliveries, Ding said.
Source: REUTERS

Southern Railway records 48 % increase in freight loading

Southern Railway records 48 % increase in freight loading

10th july 2018

Southern Railway has recorded a 16 per cent increase in ‘originating freight’ above the targeted value of 8 million tonnes during the first quarter of the financial year ending June this year.
It is a 48 per cent increase compared to the corresponding period last year, a railway press release said.
Originating freight means goods that has been loaded from Southern Railway zone and transported to other locations.
“Southern Railway loaded 9.32 million tonnes of originating freight during first quarter of the financial year ending June 2018. Significantly, the loading has surpassed the Railway Board’s target of 8.01 million tonnes by 16 per cent,” the release said.
“Further, there is a growth of 48 per cent in freight loading compared to the corresponding period of the financial year 2017-18. Coal constituted 62 per cent of the total freight,” it said.
Dolomite and Limestone loaded at Chennai Port saw an increase of 133 percentage this quarter, it added.
Source: PTI

Truckers of Odisha’s mine areas demand freight rate hike

Truckers of Odisha’s mine areas demand freight rate hike

10th july 2018

Truck owners transporting minerals from Joda mining area of Keonjhar district have sought the intervention of the State Government for upward revision of transportation costs.
Truck and tipper owners have been demanding a rise in freight rates for vehicles engaged in transportation of minerals since February. Even after several rounds of discussion with transporting agencies, mine owners and plant owners, their demand has not been conceded to.
“The present freight rate is practically unfeasible and day by day tipper owners are debilitating financially. The transporters are not in a position to continue operation any more,” said Mining Area Truck Owners Association joint secretary Satyananda Karua.He said the transportation rate was last revised on May 17, 2017. Meanwhile, the diesel price has reached a new high and the cost of vehicle insurance has also increased.
The association has made several representations to Keonjhar Collector, transporting agencies and the mine owners. However, the matter has remained unresolved. Truck and tipper owners suspended transportation of minerals for a couple of days in the first week of this month protesting non-revision of freight rates. However, they resumed operation following assurance from the association that their demands will be met soon.
As many as 3,500 tippers of about 2,100 owners are engaged in mineral transportation which provide livelihood to 7000 families of drivers and helpers. Around 40,000 people residing in the mining areas directly and indirectly depend on the transportation business. The truckers are transporting minerals to railway sidings, sponge iron and steel plants. Drawing the attention of the State Government to the issue, the association has threatened to suspend mineral transportation, if its demand is not fulfilled.
As the Railways has failed to meet the wagon requirement for transportation of minerals, the sponge iron manufacturers of the State have to depend on truckers and this add to their manufacturing cost. Meanwhile, the Sponge Iron Manufacturers Association (SIMA) has urged state government to take up the issue with the Railway Ministry.
Source: THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

Indian government to relax curbs on Indian firms chartering foreign ships

Indian government to relax curbs on Indian firms chartering foreign ships

10th july 2018

The Ministry of Shipping is clearly in reform mode. On the heels of the recent relaxation of the cabotage law, which allows foreign flag vessels to operate in Indian waters, it is now set to allow Indian players to charter foreign flag carriers without any pre-conditions.
At present, a foreign ship is allowed to be chartered only — among other conditions — if a suitable Indian ship is unavailable for that purpose at reasonable charter rates.
In fact, the entire chartering rule book is set to see a significant simplification. These measures will increase the shipping capacity in the country, bring down the cost of transportation along the coast and eventually encourage coastal shipping. At present, only 100 million tonnes of cargo is moved along the coast in India, and 80 per cent of it comprises petroleum products, coal and iron ore.
“While we were relaxing cabotage rules, we found restrictive practices in the chartering of foreign vessels. We need to correct this quickly,” Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna told BusinessLine.
At present, the number of ships available at the right price to carry cargo (both domestic and export-import) along the coast is inadequate, thanks to which people take either the road or rail route. “Once we have ships available at cheaper rates, we will encourage coastal shipping and the overall logistics cost will reduce significantly,” Gopal Krishna said.
An ‘Uber’ for ships
The overall easing of chartering rules, he felt, would give a fillip to entrepreneurship in the sector.
“By opening up, we give chance to our entrepreneurs who do not have enough funds to buy ships to come into the business by chartering a vessel,” he said.
The idea is similar to cab aggregation, which does not require an entrepreneur to own vehicles. “Our attempt is to increase shipping capacity, and a lot of cargo will move on our coast,” he said.
Source: THE HINDU BUSINESSLINE

Vessel carrying U.S. coal to China switches destination to Singapore: Eikon data

Vessel carrying U.S. coal to China switches destination to Singapore: Eikon data

10th july 2018

A vessel carrying a shipment of coal from the United States switched its destination to Singapore on Wednesday afternoon from China, according to ship tracking data, amid an escalating trade row between the world’s top two economies.
The cargo was loaded on the Navios Taurus in Mobile, Alabama, on May 28 and had been due to arrive in China on July 18, but is now due to land in Singapore on July 13, Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows.
It was one of several ships on their way to China that may end up casualties of the escalating trade dispute between China and the United States.
One of the other vessels, called Partnership, reached China on Tuesday.
China has threatened hefty import tariffs on 659 U.S. products. Duties will start on Friday on some 545 items, but the government has not specified when coal and the remaining products could be hit.
Source: REUTERS