China says Hambantota bunkering is a go. File Image / Pixabay
The new operators of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port are looking to reboot bunker operations with a “global player.”
Six as-yet-unnamed global bunker players are reported to have respond to an invitation to tender document that was open until the end of 2018.
Chinese state backed China Mechants Port Holdings have been running the port since the end of 2017 via the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) entity, under a leasing deal with the Sri Lankan government.
“We will select a global player to run the tank farm and we will be playing the landlord role,” HIPG COO, Tissa Wickramasinghe, was quoted by local media outlet Economy Next as saying.
The report also notes the bunkering tank farm was only taken over by the new operators in July.
“We have a foreign team mobilising it at the moment because it has not been operational for over two years and there are a lot of safety rules that need to be met,” Wickramasinghe said, adding that bunkering could be a key growth driver for the port.
“Until the bunker tanks get going we will not see big growth in the business.”
The previous short-lived and ill-fated bunkering venture at the port came to an end in 2015 after “irregularities” saw it rack up a loss of almost $20 million in less than a year after finally getting underway after several false starts.