GANDHIDHAM: Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones Ltd (APSEZ), Hindustan Ports Pvt Ltd – the Indian unit of DP World Ltd Dubai and QTerminals LLC has submitted an initial bid for the tender floated by the State Government Deendayal Port Authority to build a mega container terminal in Tuna-Tekra, according to reliable sources.
The 2.19 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity container terminal is estimated to cost Rs 4,243.64 crore. The deadline for submission of eligibility documents on the tender ends on Wednesday.
Deendayal Port Authority operates the largest State-owned port by volume at Kandla in Gujarat and Tuna-Tekra is a satellite facility located about 15 km away.
Turnout for the tender was lukewarm and fell short of expectations, shipping industry sources said.
In addition, the eligibility of APSEZ depends on the outcome of a petition that has been filed in the Supreme Court which aims to reverse its disqualification from the tender issued by the main port owned by the Government. APSEZ was disqualified from a recent tender floated by a major port due to tender conditions that prohibited firms involved in contract terminations at other ports from participating.
Having lost the race for the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT) deal, where it had the maximum at stake to win the tender, DP World is expected to launch a serious bid for the Tuna-Tekra terminal, port industry sources said.
There is a good reason for this.
DP World’s two terminal contracts at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port – India’s second largest container gateway – will complete their 30-year terms in 2028.
Additionally, DP World’s terminal concession at Mundra port, located about 60 km from Deendayal port, is a joint terminal with the 30-year concession granted by the Gujarat government to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) for Mundra, which is about to expire. in February 2031.
There is no clarity or certainty regarding the extension of this terminal concession, leaving DP World with limited options to maintain its strong position, built over many years, on India’s West coast.
QTerminals is a terminal operating company jointly formed by Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar – 51% shareholding) and Qatar Navigation (Milaha – 49% shareholding). It operates Hamad Port, Qatar’s gateway to world trade.
The firm Chief Executive Officer Neville Bissett said in a message on his website that “QTerminals is also actively pursuing opportunities in ports and terminals outside of Qatar and will create a portfolio of overseas assets in the next 3-5 years”.
QTerminals participated in the JNPCT tender but was unsuccessful.
The planned terminal will have the capacity to accommodate as many as 21,000 TEU capacity ships. “This means the largest container ship under construction can come to Tuna-Tekra,” Deendayal Port Authority Chairman Shri SK Mehta in Mumbai recently.
Initially, the terminal will have a depth of 14.5 meters without tidal restrictions. There is a provision in the tender to increase the depth to 18 meters based on mutual agreement between the two parties and on a cost sharing basis, he said.
The successful bidder will be free to set rates based on market conditions, another plus point for the project, unlike in the past where rates were regulated.
Deendayal Port Authority Deputy Chairman Nandeesh Shukla has introduced the terminal to private investors during a roadshow held in Mumbai in July, highlighting the logistical efficiency it enjoys in relation to the hinterland of the port (cargo generation area).
“The cost of transporting any goods on land is much more expensive than transporting them on water. So, the closest port will always have an advantage and Deendayal Port is the closest port to the northern hinterland including NCR Delhi, UP, Punjab, Haryana,” Shukla stated.
Tuna-Tekra is a shorter distance to inland container depots in North India than Mundra and also Jawaharlal Nehru Port.
Tuna-Tekra is 60 km inland from Mundra, but the rail connectivity will be less as the rail line runs close to Gandhidham.
“So, the rail advantage is about 50 km for Tuna-Tekra. In railway language, this means that at least one slab is less, which means at least 5-7 percent of the transport savings per rake. This is a huge advantage as container trade is booming on the railways,” Shukla insists.
The planned container terminal is capable of handling three ships at a time with a backup area of 55 hectares and more land available if the operator wants, he added.