KARACHI: Foreign companies have expressed interest in direct investment and joint ventures in the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC). The finance ministry has also appreciated recommendations forwarded by the federal ministry of ports and shipping for considering PNSC as the official shipping company for all public sector organisations. The final decision will be taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).
PNSC’s role is rapidly expanding in international shipping of oil and the first phase of expanding its fleet will involve an investment of $270 million to include eight new ships. Talking to The Express Tribune, Chairman Brigadier Rashid Siddiqi said that PNSC is making rapid progress despite international recession. “Looking at the efficiency, expertise and experience of PNSC, foreign investors have expressed interest in joint ventures and direct investment with the shipping corporation.”
He said that the United Arab Shipping Company is interested in joint ventures in transporting goods to Gulf States. Kuwait Petroleum, which supplies oil to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has also expressed interest in joint ventures.
Similarly, a bank of a regional cooperation organisation has also showed interest in joint ownership of ships of PNSC and negotiations are underway.
Siddiqi said that at present PNSC is carrying oil to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and African countries. He said that a long-term agreement is expected with Bangladesh while Shell has already secured PNSC services for Singapore.
The chairman added that the corporation was working on a programme to modernise its fleet. Three oil tankers and five dry bulk cargo ships will be inducted in the first phase with the investment of $270 million. Three oil tankers have already been inducted while five ships will be purchased with an investment of $120 million.
In the second phase of the expansion, the weight carrying average capacity of the fleet will be enhanced and the overall capacity will be increased from the present 600 million tons to 1,000 million tons.
Four ships will be purchased during 2011, including an oil tanker. The board has approved the purchase of the oil tanker. He said that the average age of the PNSC fleet is being reduced under the expansion plan. He said the PNSC fleet consisted of 28-years old ships. Now Japanese ships up to 10 years of age are being included bought which has reduced daily expenses on the ships from $6,000 to $4,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2011.