I am greatly honoured to be here today, and it is with much pleasure and appreciation that I welcome this opportunity to say a few words.
Firstly I wish to convey to you the greetings of my Association, INTERTANKO, and our tanker owner members, and those of our sister association, INTERCARGO and their dry cargo members.
I also bring greetings from the other members of the Round Table of international shipowning associations, namely BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), as well from the international maritime community at large, including those companies and organisations represented here today.
We congratulate you on the organising of another INMARCO Conference. This world class conference and exhibition brings together much of the best of the Indian and international maritime industries.
As we know shipping has always been important to India and its communities. From ancient times and the spreading of Buddhism east, through the mediaeval ages and the links to the Gulf to today as India grows to become one of the world’s greatest economies – with future economic success closely linked to foreign trade and to shipping.
Being heavily involved with the oil, chemical and gas tanker sectors, may I also say a few words about the oil business in the context of India and the implications for shipping?
Over the past 10 years we have witnessed a more than doubling in the capacity of India’s refineries, and it is scheduled to increase by half as much again by 2010. With this expansion in refinery capacity India will become a major exporter of oil and chemical products - serving not just the region but also further afield.
Today Indian owners control more than 10 m. dwt of tanker tonnage. Being already the fourth largest oil importer in the world, and with these further refinery developments, there will be increasing opportunities for both crude oil imports on the larger size of ships and for oil and chemical exports. No doubt Indian owners will be looking to their government to ensure that they can compete on a level playing field and to receiving effective support from the administration.
In parallel there are of course additional opportunities for shipping as India becomes a major user of LNG.
Thus Tanker Shipping has a major part to play in transporting the oil, gas and chemicals to fuel the country’s future needs and to drive its future prosperity.
With India’s strong dependence on Tanker Shipping, INTERTANKO is therefore proud to count among its membership, virtually all of the leading tanker owners and operators within India. Our members are fully committed, working individually and together, to provide the highest services to our customers and to meeting the expectations of all our stakeholders.
May I also report that our Association and our sister international shipping associations have been honoured to have participated in most of the principal shipping industry conferences and events held in India over the past 12 months. Additionally we are pleased to have organised several specialised seminars on commercial, operational technical aspects of shipping and we look forward to more in the future.
Finally I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism of the Indian maritime community.
There are many elements for which we have tremendous respect. Among others, we respect and admire:
the many excellent Indian officers and engineers that serve on our ships and in our offices,
the Institute of Marine Engineers (India), which has been a good friend to INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO, and which does an outstanding job in organising this Conference, as well as other symposia, technical meetings, seminars and training programmes,
and the Ministry of Shipping and its representatives at the IMO and elsewhere, who recognise the importance of establishing and maintaining high standards on a consistent and on an international basis. This is especially important in a world where other regional interests are particularly active and where it is necessary for India’s interests to be clearly heard and an international balance of interests achieved.