KARACHI: The Pakistan National Shipping Corp­oration (PNSC) is going to purchase three tankers at an estimated cost of $65 million, Minister of Ports and Ship­ping Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said on Wednesday.

Addressing a media briefing at the PNSC Building, the minister said the corporation would also build oil storage tanks and setup a dredging company to meet country’s growing needs in these sectors.

Responding to a question, Mr Bizenjo said revised duty and taxes under the new shipping policy enabled PNSC to purchase three new tankers with an estimated age of less than 10 years.

In the past, there was 47 per cent duty and taxes against 7-10pc in Bangladesh and India.

The tankers are expected to join PNSC’s existing fleet of nine ships within next six months and would double the total tonnage of corporation’s ships by 50 per cent.

Mr Bizenjo said the two tankers would be of Aframax category for the haulage of crude oil. One would be of Long Range (LR) category and would be used for carrying white crude or motor gas, he added.

Each of the Aframax category tankers would cost close to $22m and LR tanker will be for $20m.

The corporation has also been given the task to expand storage capacity by building oil storage tanks in Karachi Port area. This is needed to reduce the turnaround period of oil tankers as they have to wait at the outer anchorage because lack of storage capacity.

The minister congratula­ted chairman PNSC Arif Ela­hi and his team for achieving AA plus rating in most challenging environment wh­en large shipping companies were facing bankruptcies.

He also congratulated the PNSC for recording handsome profit and payment of 20pc dividend to its shareholders. On the occasion, the minister announced that a ferry service would be introduced within a year from Karachi to Port Qasim to facilitate daily commuters and in future it would be expanded to Gwa­dar, Or­ma­ra and Pasni.

At a later stage, the ferry service would be expanded to Cha­bahar, Muscat and Saudi Arabia and in this regard hurdles are being removed and working was being carried out, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman PNSC said the corporation saved millions of rupees by swapping costly loans with cheap ones and also saved 6,000 million tonnes in fuel by installing electronic devices to monitor fuel consumption of its ships.

Though on an average only 180 PNSC ships call at country’s ports as against 4,000 foreign ships per annum but it saved around $800m towards freight charges.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2017