As the increased Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports are in the pipeline to tackle the severe energy crisis the country faces, the government has given a green signal to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to procure 14 new ships under a five year fleet development programme.
These vessels, costing around 5 million, are to be purchased with assistance from USAID.
In addition to the imports of LNG, the proposed plan seeks to ensure an uninterrupted supply of other strategic commodities to the country such as oil, raw material and grains.
The ships will be procured by Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC).
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has given construction licences to three parties, including Global Energy International, Engro Corporation and Pakistan Gas Port (PGP) to guarantee LNG’s delivery, expected by the middle of next year.
Documents show that in a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on October 21, the proposed plan was adopted according to which the ships would be procured by PNSC to handle general dry cargo and liquid products.
CDWP was also informed that PNSC currently had 11 ships which would be replaced by an equal number of new ships to meet the present demand of seaborne trade.
It was also noted that the terms and conditions of the proposed loan were not given in the proposal.
Representative of the sponsoring agency informed the meeting that the requisite information would be provided along with the PC-1 of the project.
The Ministry of Ports and Shipping was directed to submit a well-prepared PC-1 for further processing through an approval authority.
Pakistan’s seaborne trade volume stands at 66 million tons and PNSC’s share is less than 10 per cent in dry sector and around 45 per cent in the liquid sectors in terms of volume.
When translated into terms of freight bill, its share is about 1 per cent against the average freight bill estimated at 4 billion dollars per annum.