Gradual pick-up in export consignments prompts ports to push volumes

JNPT back to handling 12,000 containers per day; Essar Ports performing at pre-Covid levels; Adani Ports Q1FY21 throughput 27% down YoY


Exports | Ports  | JNPT

Aditi Divekar  | 

With export consignments gradually picking up, domestic ports are adjusting to the new normal, bringing back their cargo volumes month after month.

“The unlocking that started in June (in Maharashtra) has helped the port a great deal since export consignments began coming to the terminal. Until then, we were dealing only with imports. This helped us push up volumes,” a senior official with traffic division of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) told Business Standard on conditions of anonymity.

Mumbai-based JNPT is the country’s largest major port in container cargo. Between April-July, the facility handled container traffic of 1,192,165 TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent units), about 80 per cent of the total traffic it had handled in the same period last year.

“Due to unlock situation, the gap between import-export is narrowing rapidly and has come back to the usual 12,000 containers per day handling at the port today,” informed the JNPT official.

In July, JNPT handled 3,44,316 TEUs container traffic, about 19 per cent up from previous month.

Meanwhile, Ruia-owned Essar Ports too witnessed encouraging volumes in the period under review.

“We have seen an appreciable increase in the cargo handling numbers at our ports. In the month of July, we reached almost 95 per cent of our normal volumes, which is a growth of 74 per cent over April. The recovery over the months has been quick owing to increased demand from power, steel and oil sectors,” said Rajiv Agarwal, managing director and chief executive officer at Essar Ports.

In July, Essar Ports clocked 4.39 million tonne cargo, significantly up from 2.52 million tonne noted in the month of April.

“Our terminals, across the western and eastern coasts are already performing at the pre-Covid levels and have adjusted to the new normal admirably taking full operational and safety precautions while maintaining a smooth supply chain,” Agarwal informed.

Essar Ports’ current operations span over four terminals with a combined capacity of 110 MTPA. This is roughly 5 per cent of India’s port capacity. The company is in non-containerised bulk cargo space.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) ended the Jun quarter with a throughput of 41.5 million tonne across its nine operating ports in the country. This was, 27 per cent lower than 57 million tonnes of cargo clocked in the same period last year. In Q1FY19, the company’s throughput stood at 48 million tonnes.

“We are pleased to inform that in the first quarter of Financial Year 2021, Mundra port has become the largest container Port in India, surpassing JNPT volume,” said Adani Ports in an exchange filing.

Adani Ports along with Gujarat Pipavav, another private port player in the domestic market has their earning scheduled by mid-August.

Gujarat Pipavav too struggled to buckle up amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which sent cargo volumes for a toss across all ports in the country.

A thawed trade and broken supply chain brought all businesses to a standstill in April and since then port companies were grappling to put volumes together to reach their previously achieved targets.

In container cargo, APM Terminal-led Gujarat Pipavav clocked 186,000 TEUs in June quarter, down from 221,000 TEUs in the same period last year. Its bulk volume was at 0.41 million tonne in the period under review, flat sequentially. Liquid cargo moved tad up in June quarter to 0.21 million tonne, from 0.19 million tonne in March quarter.

“We do not know whether, we will be able to continue the cargo momentum going ahead as a lot depends on demand, but at operations, ports have certainly adjusted to the new normal and will be able to function smoothly,” said the JNPT traffic division official.