A ship full-loaded with fuel oil departs from Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, hustling toward Shanghai to fuel another from Panama Canal.
Unlike the past, it remains there, waiting to help other freights from the world, rather than going back to Zhoushan to be assigned for another fueling order. That’s how things changed after the establishment of the China (Zhejiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone. Ningbo aims to develop a full-scale oil-related commodity trading platform to deepen its policy and economic upgrading.
Previously high oil prices meant few ships would harbor at the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port to charge their oil tanks while also claiming complex regulations compared with competitors in Singapore. Now Ningbo pledges to enhance its port competitiveness by streamlining administrations.
Bolstered by such a policy, the port would become an oil and chemicals trading hub, which will attract ships worldwide. Tankers from the Ningbo-Zhoushan port are now entitled to fuel several ships during their travels without informing authorities at the port, “which would maximize our efficiency to serve the global shipping industry,” said Zhang Qianjiang, deputy director-general of Zhejiang’s Department of Commerce.
Such measure will save operational costs at the port, 34-40 million yuan a year, compared with the conventional fueling regulation, said Zhang Ji, a manager of Sinopec’s branch at the port.
The Ningbo port merged with Zhoushan port last year, which would collaboratively fulfill such blueprint. While Zhoushan positions itself as the port to attract ships around the world, Ningbo defines itself as the basis for trading as it locates massive of oil and chemicals companies.
Apart from helping to cut the red tapes at the port, Ningbo will also help reduce the fuel prices and enrich supplies. China’s crude prices exceed those from Singapore, around US$20 per ton, due to the costly logistics expenses and taxes, said Xia Wenzhong, deputy director of the Zhoushan Free Trade Zone’s Planning and Construction Group.
Things would improve in years to come, if the port locates more oil and chemicals giants from the world to help save the logistics costs and time, Xia said.
Ningbo would then be critical to fulfill such a task, given it has one of the nation’s largest oil and chemicals industrial park locating hundreds of companies’ trading and refining headquarters. The Ningbo Zhenhai Chemical Industrial Park has the capacity to refine over 23 million tons of crude every year, abutting the nation’s largest liquid chemicals port, where annual storage exceeds 5 million tons.