The Ennore container terminal (ECT), also called Bay of Bengal Gateway Terminal, is on track despite delayed closure of debt-funding.

The London-based Eredene Capital is working towards financial closure of debt-funding for the £207-million project in which it is a partner in a consortium led by Spain's biggest port-terminal operator Grup Marítim TCB.

The terminal's construction is expected to begin by year-end, allowing the first ships to be handled in 2013, Eredene said in its annual report for 2010-11.

In May, Eredene raised £30 million and most of the funds are being earmarked for the terminal and other potential projects in India.

It is working with its consortium partners on securing local debt-financing in India for the new terminal. The container terminal will serve a growing industrial hinterland and motor-manufacturing hub, and it will have an eventual planned annual capacity of 2.4 million TEUs (twenty-ft equivalent units). “ECT is an important project for Eredene,” the company said.

The consortium was awarded the build-operate-transfer project in June 2009 for 30 years.

The terminal will have a quay length of 1,000 metres with 15-metre water depth at the berths and will be able to handle three container vessels of up to 8,000 TEUs simultaneously.

Even though Chennai, Tuticorin and Kochi container terminals enjoy advantages of the present market network, the ports suffer because of constraints like space availability for expansion, congestion in access roads, draft limitation and labour problems, says a report on Ennore port's business plan prepared jointly by HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH and CES Consulting Engineers Services (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Vizhinjam will be a newcomer and enjoy similar advantages as Ennore. On the other hand, hinterland access may not be quite as favourable.

The Ennore port plans to remain competitive by developing the container terminal for 6,000-8,000-TEU vessels on priority with better facilities and commission it ahead of competing facilities such as the proposed second container terminal at Tuticorin, says the report.

(This article was published on August 24, 2011)
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