Feather in their Cap: Adani and CMA CGM commission fourth container terminal at Mundra

Adani and CMA CGM commission fourth container terminal at Mundra

Mundra port’s fourth container terminal, which has a capacity to handle 1.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo, commenced operations in April 2016, three months ahead of schedule. With the opening of the terminal, the container handling capacity of the port increased to 5.5 million TEUs, one of the highest in the country. “This terminal will enable Mundra port to emerge as India’s largest container handling port. It will help the port to set the bar even higher on the crucial parameters of efficiency, productivity and faster turnaround times for larger vessels. And this will directly translate into a competitive advantage for customers,” states an Adani spokesperson.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZL) and CMA CGM, France, had signed an agreement in July 2014 to develop the fourth container terminal at Mundra port, the Adani CMA Mundra Terminal. The container terminal spans over 27 hectares with a 650 metre long quay and a draught of 16.5 metres. The yard equipment includes 12 units of 41 tonne lift rubber-tyred container gantry cranes, which will accommodate seven rows of containers and have one operational lane. The terminal has four units of 65 tonne capacity rail-mounted quay cranes capable of handling 18,000 TEU vessels and super-post and ultra-large container vessels.

The terminal holds great significance for both companies. APSEZL-operated Mundra port is currently the second largest container cargo handling port in the country in terms of volume, after the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). In terms of growth, however, it is growing much faster than other ports. Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the top two container handling major ports, JNPT and Chennai, witnessed almost negligible compound annual growth rates of 1 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively, compared to the double-digit growth at Mundra port.

Besides the new terminal, Mundra has three operating terminals – a 1.35 million TEU terminal run by APSEZL itself, a 1.35 million TEU facility operated by Dubai Ports World, and a 1.5 million TEU terminal run by a 50:50 joint venture of APSEZL and the Mediterranean Shipping Company SA. With the commissioning of the fourth terminal, APSEZL’s position in the country’s maritime space has further strengthened, particularly in the container segment. The terminal will cater to the highly industrialised states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab, and the National Capital Region.

Regarding future plans in the container business, the Adani spokesperson says, “We are rapidly expanding our container terminal footprint along India’s coastline, while augmenting APSEZL’s three operational container handling facilities at Mundra, Hazira and Kattupalli, an under-construction transhipment hub in Vizhinjam in Kerala, and two other under-construction terminals at Ennore in Tamil Nadu and Dhamra in Odisha. These will allow APSEZL to fulfil its vision of handling 200 million tonnes of cargo well before the year 2020.”

For CMA CGM, the new container terminal at Mundra is its first port investment in India, since its presence in the country since 1984. With this terminal, the company has 34 container terminals in its portfolio worldwide. In India, the CMA CGM Group has so far offered a wide range of shipping and intermodal solutions covering accessibility to and from 51 inland locations, six gateway ports and seven feeder ports. The company also has plans to make further investments in the port sector in India.

Overall, it is too early to gauge the terminal’s performance. However, given Adani’s vast experience in maritime operations and the port’s strategic location, it is likely to emerge as the natural gateway to north India, the major originating point of the container cargo in the country.