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Tuticorin Port, also known as the V.O. Chidambaranar Port, is located in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India.
The port is operated by the V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust.
Tuticorin is among several Indian ports that are ramping up coal loading capabilities to cater to rising import demand. Since 2009, the port has initiated construction of four new coal berths, in accordance with Ministry of Shipping targets that originally called for Tuticorin's annual coal import capacity to rise to 24 million tonnes by 2014-15 and 30 million tonnes by 2019-20. As of 2021, the port has at least 29 million tonnes per year of coal-handling capacity, with plans to increase capacity to 52 million tonnes per year. In 2022, the company extended the bid for the mechanization of the expansion.
The map below shows the location of the recently built coal terminals, known as North Cargo Berths I-IV, at the Tuticorin Port. Two additional coal berths are located farther east along the jetty. Berth 9, located directly across the harbor from the North Cargo Berths, also has mechanized coal unloading facilities.
The port is one of the 12 major ports of India, and was declared to be a major port on July 11, 1974. It is the second-largest port in Tamil Nadu and fourth-largest container terminal in India. Tuticorin Port is the third international port in Tamil Nadu and its second all-weather port.
Traffic handling at Tuticorin Port exceeded 10 million metric tons between April 1 and September 13, 2008, registering a growth rate of over 12 percent compared to the corresponding previous year figure of 8.96 million tons.
By 2014, annual traffic at the port had surpassed 28 million metric tons. An April 2014 article in the Times of India cited Tuticorin as one of India's fastest growing ports, noting that its existing annual cargo capacity of 33.34 million tons was set to increase to 85.73 million tons upon completion of expansion projects, including the Transstroy - OJSC Consortium's development of North Cargo Berth-IV for thermal coal and copper concentrate and the construction of a shallow draught berth for cement and related raw materials.
In 2014, the Indian government announced ambitious long-term expansion plans for the port, proposing the construction of 17 new berths in Tuticorin's outer harbor between 2019 and 2043. The proposed outer harbor expansion would include development of six new coal berths and would increase the port's overall capacity by an additional 338 million tonnes.
As of January 2019, the port's total capacity was estimated at 46.78 million tonnes per annum. At that time, the port announced a ₹5,720 crore (approximately US$850 million) plan to expand the port's capacity by deepening the harbou basin and approach channel to handle ships with a draft of 15.2 metres, widening the port’s entrance, building six new berths, and strengthening/upgrading the existing berths.
The port's annual cargo volumes remained mostly steady between 2015 and 2019, with around 35 million tonnes handled per year. Volumes declined somewhat in 2019-2020 to 31.7 million tonnes handled.
Since 2009, the port has initiated construction of four new coal berths (North Cargo Berth I-IV), which will increase the port's total capacity from 33 million tonnes to more than 85 million tonnes by 2016. The expansion is in accordance with Ministry of Shipping targets that call for Tuticorin's annual coal import capacity to rise to 24 million tonnes by 2014-15 and 30 million tonnes by 2019-20.
Coal imports through Tuticorin Port reached 9.3 million tonnes in the 2011-12 fiscal year and 10.6 million tonnes in 2012-13. Most of the coal imported through Tuticorin comes from Indonesia and Australia. Thermal coal imports in FY2017 increased to 10.824 million tonnes. Overall coal volumes at Tuticorin Port remained mostly steady between 2015 and 2019, with around 13 million tonnes per year handled. Of the total coal volumes, the proportion of thermal coal has declined steadily since 2015, being replaced with other types of coal. Coal volumes fell somewhat in 2020, reaching 6.5 million tonnes of thermal coal and 4.8 million tonnes of other coal.
In February 2019, the port announced plans to increase its coal handling capacity to 52 million metric tonnes per annum. The expansion would include upgrading coal jetties I and II, as well as North Cargo Berth (NCB) I, mechanization of NCB II and III, and dredging at NCB III. The port has also completed a mechanized coal unloading system at Berth 9.
North Cargo Berths
In 2009 the port announced that it would develop coal handling facilities at its North Cargo Berth (NCB-1) for the state-run Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC). Project annual capacity for the new coal berth was 5 million tons. In August 2010, ABG Infralogistics (subsequently renamed Starlog Enterprises and collaborating as an equal partner with Louis Dreyfus Armateurs S.A. in the Indo-French joint venture Alba Asia) was selected as developer of a second coal berth (NCB-II), with an annual capacity of 10 million tons. In December 2012, Transstroy (India) Ltd emerged as the high bidder for construction of two additional coal berths (NCB-III and NCB-IV), each with an annual capacity of 7.28 million tons. Plans call for NCB-III to handle thermal coal and rock phosphate, with NCB-IV handling coal and copper concentrates. As of November 2021, all four North Cargo Berths appear to be fully operational.
In January 2018, Alba Asia opened a new coal terminal at the port capable of handling fully loaded Panamax vessels. The new terminal, whose capacity is listed in press reports as 10 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), is projected to help raise Tuticorin's coal handling capacity to 24 mtpa by 2019, with 5 to 5.5 million tonnes to be supplied each year to the Mutiara Coastal Energen Thermal Power Plant. Tuticorin Coal Terminal Pvt Ltd (TCTPL), the special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up to implement the project, invested ₹640 crore (approximately US$96 million) to construct the facility. The total project cost overshot the original estimates of ₹465 crore mainly due to a two-year delay in dredging the berth by VOCPT to accommodate Panamax-size ships at the facility. Alba Asia's website continues to list the new terminal's capacity as 14 mtpa.
The Alba Terminal immediately ran into issues. The port stopped operations in June 2018, just months after opening. Experts say that the terminal became unviable because of the steep revenue percentage it had agreed to share with the V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust to win the contract. Due to a debt of ₹355.79 crore owed to a clutch of seven banks led by Bank of India, the terminal operator (TCTPL) entered bankruptcy proceedings. It sought to sell the port assets in 2020 under India's Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. In August 2021, a creditors’ panel rejected the expression of interest (EoI) filed by two entities to buy the port facility. Liquidation of assets is the next step for the facility. The Alba Terminal is the first public-private-partnership (PPP) project in the Indian ports sector to head for liquidation.
- Operator: V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust
- Location: Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India
- Capacity (Tonnes per annum): 47 million (all cargo), 29 million (coal)
- Proposed Capacity (Tonnes per annum): 52 million (coal)
- Status: Operating
- Type: Imports
- Projected in service:
- Cost of expansion:
- Financing for expansion:
- Coal Source: Indonesia and Australia
Articles and Resources
- "India’s 12 big ports see first signs of revival in cargo growth", LiveMint, October 17, 2014.
- "Tuticorin port plans capacity expansion" The Hindu Business Line, February 13, 2013.
- The V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust (VOCPT) has further extended the bid due date for the Mechanisation of North Cargo Berth (NCB)-III Project at V. O. Chidambaranar Port (VOCPT), India Port Tracker, November 2022
- Port Layout, V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, Accessed Nov. 16, 2021
- "Tuticorin Port Trust" Wikipedia, accessed February 2015.]
- "Tuticorin Port handling crosses 100 lakh t" The Hindu Business Line, September 16, 2008.
- "VO Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin Handles 286.42 lakh tonnes in FY 2013-14" The Times of India, April 1, 2014.
- "Tuticorin gets ready to harness its potential" The Business Standard, August 4, 2014.
- P Manoj, VO Chidambaranar port gets green nod for ₹ 5,720 cr capacity expansion plan, Business Line, Jan. 28, 2019
- Cargo Traffic and Vessel performance 2020-21, V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, 2021
- "Tuticorin port plans capacity expansion" The Hindu Business Line, February 13, 2013.
- "Surge in coal import" The Hindu Business Line, October 7, 2013.
- "ALBA Asia to open coal terminal at VO Chidambaranar port" The Hindu Business Line, January 4, 2018.
- Plan to develop two container terminals, The Hindu, Feb. 27, 2019
- Ongoing Projects, V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, Accessed November 2021
- "Tuticorin Port to invest Rs 700cr for coal handling facilities" T E Narasimham/Chennai May, Business Standard, May 25, 2009.
- "Financial Results for the Quarter Ended 31st March 2016" SBG World, March 2016.
- "Promoters" Alba Asia website, accessed March 2018.
- "ABG Infralogistics to pay record ‘revenue share' to Tuticorin port" The Hindu Business Line, August 7, 2010.
- "Transstroy may win coal loading berths at VO Chidambaranar port" LiveMint, January 10, 2013.
- "7 infra majors in fray for cargo berths at Chidambaranar Port" The Hindu Business Line, December 25, 2012.
- ALBA Asia starts coal terminal at VOC port, Equipment India, Jan. 9, 2018
- "14 million ton mega coal terminal at Tuticorin," Alba, accessed March 2018.
- Tuticorin Coal Terminal becomes first IBC-driven sale of a port concession, India Seatrade News, Sep. 11, 2020
- P Manoj, In a first for port PPP project, Tuticorin Coal Terminal heads for liquidation, Business Line, Aug. 3, 2021