The collision of two cargo ships off Mumbai at the weekend shut India's busiest port on Monday, caused an oil slick and stalled the delivery of 1.5 million barrels of crude oil for one of the biggest refiners.
Port operations could resume on Tuesday, officials said, as teams from the navy and coastguard tried to contain the spill of diesel and lubricant oil from one of the ships that had spread 2 nautical miles from the vessel.
The two Panamanian ships collided on Saturday, flinging 250 containers overboard and making navigation difficult. All crew members were rescued.
Three crude tankers holding about 1.5 million barrels of crude oil for Bharat Petroleum CorpBPCL were stranded at the port because of the shut down.
The Directorate General of Shipping is likely to issue reports on conditions at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port on Tuesday and decide on whether the port is fit to resume operations, said a port official who declined to be named, as they were not authorised to talk to the media.
"We are taking a survey and marking the containers that are submerged. We are hoping by tomorrow morning we should be able to resume operations," another official said over the phone.
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust handled more than 60.7 million tonnes of container traffic in 2009/10, a 6 percent rise compared with the previous year. A spokesman for the port could not be reached for a comment.
Authorities hope to clear the harbour of the containers within 2-3 days, the Ministry of Shipping said on Monday.
Operations at Mumbai refineries have not been hit because the explorer Oil and Natural Gas CorpONGC has raised crude supplies from its Mumbai High fields, India's biggest crude oil producing fields accounting for half the country's oil output.
Teams from the navy and coastguard were trying to contain the oil spill, but officials were concerned the slick may spread.
"Aerial spraying of chemicals to contain the spill is going on. But oil is still leaking from the cargo and it is likely the slick will spread farther because of the tide and windy conditions," said navy official Captain Manohar Nambiar.