East India Branch – August 2016 Seminar on Interfacing Shipping & Services

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2016

A day's seminar was organised by Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers East India Branch in Kochi on 27th August 2016. The seminar was attended by about 200 participants, including students from the Institute and focused this year on Logistics and Maritime Law.

Shri C J Mathew IRS (Member Technical) CE&ST Appellate Tribunal Southern Region Chief guest in his keynote address traced India's maritime history from Vedic times, highlighting that shipping is what indeed has enabled globalization.

He added that the boom and bust cycle is typical in shipping due to changing trade patterns, technology advancements, economic growth in different parts of the world etc, the pre-and post Beijing Olympics period was pointed at, to substantiate the findings aired.

IMG_6113 IMG_6102

IMG_6091 IMG_6340 (1)

In the welcome address, Capt K.P.Rajagopal, Chairman East India Branch, invited the students to take up the Institute qualifying examinations and assured them that the local branch provides help for every student to prepare and take the exam successfully.

Capt John P Menezes chairing Interfacing Ports & Ships session, delved into Harbours and Ports with Security as a recent concern.  Specialisation of ports, their safety, hazards, employment potential etc were added on.

Capt Suresh Amirapu drew attention to the narrow share of India in international trades, consoling that there has been visible growth after liberalization. However, congestion has been the order of the day he added, citing 11km waiting length of trucks at India's premier container port JNPT off New Mumbai. Good intentions he complained seldom resulted in desired results due to tardy implementation. The Tariff authority setting rates for Major ports and Terminals therein he said had given undue competitive advantage to non-major ports and new terminals. While India's Vessel related charges are very high - in US dollars too, he complained that Terminal handling charges for boxes are paltry and low as compared to nearby Asian and South-East Asian terminals.

Capt K P Rajagopal supported with macro and micro statistics in details drew attention to the share of major Indian ports increasing after losing to the non-major ports for a while. He added that the trade projections in the port reports have been more or less imaginary and in any case the 5-year plans are going to be discontinued after the current one. He touched upon the social philosophy of port and trade development emphasizing major initiatives being taken by the government pointing out the revenue share that is earned by ports. With External Currency Borrowings in US$ at low interest rates and ports obtaining deemed export status, more projects will be viable in his view. Under Sagarmala ports, shipping, waterways, etc. will get a boost he added.

Mr S. Sankaran drew attention to the plight of shipping due to the liner freight meltdown, supporting his well-found arguments with the crash of Shanghai  Container Freight Index.

Shri R Swaminathan chaired the session on Commercial Shipping in which Practitioners' Challenges were highlighted and discussed in length by Shri H L Santharam.

Bulk Shipping & World Trade was addressed in depth by Mr Krishan Prasad. He said the markets are ever-changing and no new fixtures are alike even with the same cargo, owners, operators and charterers. Mr Krishnan Subramaniam talked about Liquid Bulk Trade providing insights into its specialties, vagaries and nuances.

The potential slumber after sumptuous lunch was pre-empted by a riveting session on Avoiding Litigation chaired by Capt S Pullat who nudged two High Court Lawyers and a Claims Consultant to higher plateau from the stance and positions they were taking covering the topic.

Advocate Syam Kumar reported a case where the court had ruled against an Arbitration clause in a B/L. A heated discussion session followed, surmising that it was untenable and bad in law.

Shri Joy Thattil spoke about Litigation and Arbitration reminding about the need to have good systems in place, creating awareness amongst executives and following up unavoidable litigation and Arbitration properly.

Mr Jagannathan, though not a qualified lawyer, highlighted the need to follow proper procedures of the jurisdiction opted for and spoke about the nuances of Arbitration vis-à-vis Mediation.

Capt Pullat cautioned that litigation is an ever present risk in any domain, and frauds and criminality cannot be mediated upon. The old case law of Adler Vs Dixon of Himalayan fame was recalled; so too Contract Act, Charter Parties etc by the two lawyers with the Consultant stressing that Arbitration under the New York Convention is enforceable in many countries. He hoped that the recent amendments to Indian Arb Act would impart it more traction, speed and usage.

In the session on Shipping support to Oil & Gas chaired by capt K G Ramakrishnan, Capt Neel Nair took the participants through a conducted tour -through a well laid out presentation- on Oil & Gas industry including Shale oil right from their formation, exploration, prospecting, drilling, production to capping the wells, pointing out the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities available at very good remuneration and compensation for hard work.

Capt Alex Anthony stressed that Kochi has become a major bunkering port and there are opportunities for traders, entrepreneurs and even arbitraging between Singapore and Gulf. He however cautioned on the pitfalls citing OW bunker case that had gone up to House of Lords.

Mr Vikas Singh Chief Manager Port Operations of Petronet LNG Ltd provided technical insights into the LNG trade explaining the Spherical tanks, Membrane protection, Floating Storage Regassifying Unit (FSRU) etc stating that CH4 Methane is what LNG is and its cryogenic trade reduces volume down to six-hundredth by liquefying to -1600C for easy carriage. Explaining some of its limitations, he said that its operational track record is excellent and LNG is currently evolving as a practical clean and cheap fuel for ships with its availability being established in major trade routes.

IMG_6305 IMG_6264

After the actual seminar, Shri Krishna Prasad and Krishnan undertook a session on Career Counselling for the students attending, underlining that "attitude quotient" is a perquisite and loving the job and taking risks are necessary to survive. They stressed the importance of continuously keeping up-to-date with the professional knowledge, considering new career avenues, employment and business possibilities.

The seminar content was summed up ably by Capt Avtar Singh peppering with interesting anecdotes and humor. The participant students stayed till the very end making notes and asking questions, and finally capping it all with National Anthem.