Indonesia’s tug sector came under the spotlight at Riviera Maritime Media’s Asian Tug Technology & Salvage Conference
Indonesia has the world’s largest tug fleet, at around 3,600 vessels, representing 20% of the global fleet in terms of number of vessels, with a combined bollard pull of 6.6M tonnes. Domestic tug numbers are expected to grow over the next five years as ports are upgraded and population growth drives demand for bulk product transportation, particularly coal.
There is high demand for inter-island transportation of bulk materials, especially coal, sand, nickel, oil, aggregates and agricultural products. According to tug and barge operator Mitrabahtera Segara Sejati (MBSS), there are opportunities for vessels that are flagged in Indonesia.
MBSS general manager Ferdinand Chavez Mapaye said that there are increasing requirements for transporting coal from production centres in south and east Kalimantan to the major population centres, such as cities on the island of Java. Coal is used for power generation, which is expected to rise in line with both population growth and increasing kWh per capita, he said at Riviera’s Asian Tug Technology & Salvage Conference, in Singapore, in September.
There will be greater need for tugs and barges as there are hundreds of shipping routes within the archipelago of islands and because of their relatively short distance. “The electrification of Indonesia is a prime driver for bulk cargo whether it is dry or liquid,” Mr Mapaye said in a video interview during the conference.
He urged international companies to consider investing in Indonesia to grow their businesses and provide alternative tug technology to what domestic players currently offer. “[Tug operators] should not be afraid to enter the Indonesian market and it is not necessary to go through an agency or distributor,” he said, adding that the most successful companies are those that are ready to invest as there are no restrictions to technology adoption.
“Companies can import foreign-built tugs and reflag in Indonesia and get tax benefits,” Mr Mapaye said. He expects requirements for handling larger ships in Indonesian ports will lead to tugs with higher bollard pull entering the market, but with domestic ownership.
However, Kim Heng Offshore & Marine Holdings chief executive and executive chairman Thomas Tan said the cabotage rules, vessel flagging and taxes are challenges to operating tugs in Indonesia. He explained at the conference that the tug market in the whole region has been flat for the last three years. “There is overcapacity as there is no scrapping and prices are depressed,” he said.
Indonesian tug operator Pelindo Marine Service chief executive Captain Ali Sodikin explained that US$643M is being invested in central Indonesian port infrastructure from 2017 to 2019. This will be spent on increasing port capacity and improving terminal productivity through investing in cranes and creating new portside land. This is part of a project called the Indonesian Maritime Highway that will improve inter-island connectivity.
Capt Sodikin said that channels and port areas will be dredged to enable larger ships to dock. As an example of this investment, Pelindo III, which operates ports within this maritime highway in Kalimantan, Java, Sulawesi and other smaller islands, is expanding the hub ports Tanjung Emas and Tanjung Perak on Java, Sampit and Banjarmasin in Kalimantan and Tenau Kupang..
Pelindo III purchased 15 Robert Allan-designed harbour tugs in 2016 with varying bollard pull capabilities and enhanced stability and manoeuvrability. Capt Sodikin said these tugs have large forward fenders, heavy-duty anchor and towing winches, high bulwarks and advanced navigation consoles in their a wheelhouses that have panoramic visibility for tug masters. These tugs range from 745 kW with 23 tonnes of bollard pull to 1,780 kW with 60 tonnes bollard pull.