KARACHI: After acquiring two LR-1 (long range) tanker vessels earlier this year, the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) is set to purchase a third Aframax class tanker for its fleet, official sources said on Saturday.
Earlier in March, the PNSC had acquired LR-1 tanker vessel, Bolan and subsequently in April purchased another tanker vessel, Khairpur. Each tanker vessel has a capacity of carrying 75,000DWT (dead weigh tonnage) of clean petroleum products, sources said.
The Aframax category tanker is used for haulage of crude oil. The national flag carrier has already issued tender for the procurement of the vessel having a capacity of 75,000DWT tonnage, sources added.
With the addition of Aframax vessel, the fleet strength of PNSC will go up to 12 vessels –including seven tanker vessels and five bulk carriers.
However, PNSC has yet to become truly financially and commercially viable entity, observed maritime expert Capt (retd) Rashid Abro. He said the PNSC is getting protected working environment by enjoy ‘first right of refusal’ status in the shipping industry.
“If the government wants the country to achieve its past glory in shipping industry private sector should be encouraged to investment in the industry and this was only possible if a level playing field was ensured to private sector,” he added.
The country every year has to foot a huge bill of $5 billion towards freight for the haulage of imports and exports. However, if the PNSC manages to increase the strength of its feel the gap could be narrowed down and outflow of foreign exchange could be reduced.
In order to capture remaining imports of clean petroleum products of state owned Pakistan State Oil (PSO), experts say, PNSC would need to acquire six more LR-1 tanker vessels.
Similarly, if imports of clean petroleum products of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have to be fully handled by the national flag carrier, another six LR-1 tanker vessels would be needed.
Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2019