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Covid impact: Kochi port sees 30% dip in crude oil traffic during Apr-Oct

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The Covid lockdown has made its impact on crude oil traffic in Cochin Port Trust — the major cargo which the port solely depends on BPCL for increased throughput and revenue. The crude movement has registered a 30 per cent drop between April and October because of the reduced intake by the Kochi refinery of the public sector oil major.

“However, the container traffic — that witnessed a drop in the initial months of the lockdown — has started recouping as the monthly traffic exceeded 60,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) in September,” said M Beena, Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust. “We are very optimistic on the container traffic and we will be able to catch up the shortfall by the end of this month,” she told.

“Covid seems to be behind us at least in terms of container traffic, as the port has achieved a greater growth in a short duration and would exceed last year’s figure by March,” she added. The port had handled 6,20,061 TEUs in 2019-20.

“But the crude traffic has remained in the negative territory both in terms of revenue generation and volume of traffic. Since the port considers this commodity as a major money-spinner, the drop in volume would have an impact on the financials in the current fiscal. The port has made a turnaround from 2016-17 and was in the green in the last three years,” she added.

The net profit in 2019-20 was ₹21.30 crore and the port continues to make profits since 2017-18.

Traffic picks up
When contacted, a senior official in BPCL-KR said there was a considerable reduction in the production facility during the first quarter due to lockdown. This had impacted crude arrivals. Normally, the monthly crude intake would be 1.4 million tonnes and this has been reduced by 50 per cent. However, the traffic has now started picking up since October, following the improvement in production in the 15.5 million tonne refining facility.

“From November, we have started getting a full capacity load and the traffic is expected to pick up in the coming days with the improvement in demand for petroleum products,” the official said adding that the crude arrival to the refinery purely depends on the demand for petroleum products in the market.

“Not only crude, the movement of petroleum oil and lubricants (POL) products from the refinery to south Indian markets through Cochin Port Trust and roadways movement has also come down to less than one million tonnes due to subdued demand. The demand for aviation fuel has also come down due to suspension of flights,” he added.

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