The Kamarajar port at Ennore in North Chennai will become Cape compliant - to handle large Capesize ships - by investing ₹325 crore in the dredging project this fiscal. For this, the Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL), a subsidiary of the Chennai Port Authority (CPA), will dredge the port’s berth to 18 m draft from the present 16 m to attract such large size vessels.

For the project, the KPL has issued a global tender to carry out capital dredging of the harbour basin to 20.5 m; deepening of the inner approach channel to 22 m; deepening the outer approach channel from existing levels to 23 m, and lengthening the approach channel to 23 m.

Capesize ships

The dredging project is important for Kamarajar port as KPL has chalked out its future growth path, said Sunil Paliwal, Chairperson for both CPA and KPL. The Panamax size vessels - that can transit the Panama Canal - carries 1.20 lakh tonnes of cargo and requires 16 m draft. However, the Capesize ships require 18 m draft and can carry 1.70 lakh tonnes of cargo, he told businessline.

Capesize ships are the largest dry cargo ships and too large to transit the Suez Canal (Suezmax limits) or Panama Canal (Neopanamax limits). They have to pass either Cape Agulhas or Cape Horn to traverse between oceans.

The all-weather Kamarajar port has a cargo handling capacity of 57.44 million tonnes (mt) with nine operational berths, out of which three are for handling bulk coal; two for handling liquid cargo (POL, LPG & LNG); two for automobile export/import and associated capital goods and one each to handle container and multi cargo.

Coal berths

KPL has initiated action for development of additional five berths/terminals: - two berths to handle coal and two berths to handle liquid cargo.

The proposed coal berths will accommodate capsize vessels of 18 m draft and have capacity of 9 MTPA each. KPL has handed over coal berth - 4 and coal berth - 3 to Tangedco during August 2018 and June 2019 respectively, for installation of top loading facilities like unloaders and conveyor system. Mechanisation of the berths by Tangedco is under progress, the tender document said.

Liquid terminal

KPL has initiated action for development of two additional liquid terminals through captive and PPP mode to handle POL and LPG of total 6 mt per annum. The captive berth is expected to be operational by December 2024, the document says.

For the fiscal ending March 31, 2024, KPL reported a 4 per cent increase in cargo handling to 45.28 mt. It reported operating income of ₹1,060 crore for for the fiscal as against ₹983 crore in the previous year, an increase by 8 per cent.