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Aug 02, 2009 (LBO) – The recession that triggered a steep slump in shipping may throw up opportunities for Sri Lanka’s Colombo port, a senior official of a company that has bid for a terminal in the harbour said. Dr Parakrama Dissanayake, chairman, Aitken Spence Maritime, part of the Aitken Spence conglomerate, said the recession was causing huge losses for shipping lines and sharply reduced port cargo volumes.

These may lead to consolidation among shipping lines which may benefit Colombo port as lines look to call at fewer transhipment ports, he said.

Many ships were plying half empty and freight rates had plunged because of the economic slump worsened by a glut of new ships ordered during the boom years, Dissanayake told a forum on logistics.

It was organised by the Sri Lanka branch of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.

There was concern about the flood of new ships, many much bigger than older vessels, that had caused a serious imbalance between demand and supply, Dissanayake said.

“Despite the recession the growth in the fleet of container ships has hit double digits,” he said.

“The top carriers have ordered mega-vessels of 12,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent u