Dec 15, 2009 (LBO) – A planned ship fuel business off a new port being built in southern Sri Lanka, will target small vessels sailing past the island and lure them with break-even prices, officials said. Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) intends to start sales of bunkers in the first quarter of next year off Hambantota, where a new port is being built a few miles away from the main sea route across the Indian Ocean.
Sceptics of the project in the maritime community said big container vessels with fixed schedules calling Colombo will probably not need to take fuel off Hambantota.
This is because they fill up on fuel in Singapore or the Gulf which are big crude oil refining centres offering the cheapest bunkers.
SLPA officials said that compared with the three major bunkering terminals in the world – Singapore, Rotterdam and Fujairah, Sri Lanka is far from being competitive.
As a result, bunkering in Colombo is limited and confined mainly to small feeder vessels calling at ports in the Indian subcontinent.
Big container ships operated by the major shipping companies do not use bunkering services in Colombo.
“Hence, initial demand at Hambantota may be limited, especially given