Throughput of Russian ports in the first half of 2018 grew by 2.7% but its growth rates have slowed as compared with the previous years. The growth was primarily driven by dry cargo that confirms the necessity to continue the development of related facilities.
New old trends
According to data published by Rosmorrechflot (Federal Marine and River Transport Agency), seaports of Russia handled 394 million tonnes of cargo in the first half of 2018, which is a 2.7% increase, year-on-year. Transshipment of dry bulk cargo grew by 8.4% to 188.52 million tonnes, liquid bulk cargo – fell by 2% to 206 million tonnes.
As for dry cargo, the growth was registered in the Baltic basin (+8.4%), Southern basin (+5.6%), Far East basin (+5%), Arctic basin (+3.8%) and Caspian basin (+10.4%).
The growth of dry cargo transshipment in the Southern basin was driven by bulk cargo, mostly grain and ore, as well as general cargo. Once again this confirms the urgent need to build new dry cargo handling facilities in the area and to develop railway approaches to them as provided by the Taman port project. In March 2018, Vladimir Putin, in his address to the Federal Assembly, emphasized that the state should increase the capacity of railway approaches to the ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin by more than 1.5 times to 131 million tonnes млн тонн в год. Taking into account the demand of shippers, total deficit of Far East ports’ capacity will make 70 mln t per year by 2020 including 66.5 mln t of dry bulk cargo and 3.5 mln t of grain as we wrote earlier >>>>
In the Arctic basin, the growth of dry cargo throughput was driven mainly by coal, ore and project cargo. This, in its turn confirms the urgency of Murmansk Transport Hub project and shifting of coal transshipment to the left shore of the Kola bay through the construction of Lavna terminal capable of handling 18 million tonnes per year.
One more promising project in the Arctic is the construction of Arkhangelsk seaport’s deepwater area. The project provides for construction of a state-of-the-art transport and production hub with four multi-purpose terminals and two specialized terminals able to handle 38 mln t of cargo by 2035, a highway and a railway. According to OOO Morstroytechnology, the potential cargo base not involving other infrastructure projects is 27 million tonnes per year while implementation of the Northern Latitudinal Railway and Belkomur projects may attract additional 9 million tonnes of potash fertilizers and up to 10.2 million tonnes of oil and gas per year.
In the future, the Northern Latitudinal Railway and Belkomur projects will also let arrange regular transportation of dry cargo via the port of Sabetta.
The core of the Arctic ports’ throughput is still made by oil from the northern fields. With the launching of the Yamal LNG project it is expanded with the liquefied natural gas.
Turnover of dry cargo in the Far East basin grew by 5%. Numerous projects announced in this region are primarily associated with coal transshipment but few of them have come to implementation. Among them is the Vostochny Port’s Phase III project. New terminal facilities will let the port capacity to reach 39-40 million tonnes in 2019.
To a great extent, the development of Far East basin facilities depends on the capacity of railway approaches and on best available technologies that should be applied for transshipment of environmentally-sensitive cargo.
A minus for the Baltic, a plus for the Caspian
The Baltic basin is the only one to show the general decrease of throughput with dry cargo having grown by 8% and liquid bulk cargo having decreased by 8%.
The fall of liquid bulk cargo transshipment should be attributed to OPEC+ agreement and to conversion of crude oil pipeline into oil product pipeline under the Sever project. Transshipment of oil products via the ports of Ust-Luga and Primorsk increased (also driven by the Sever project) while transshipment via Saint-Petersburg and Vysotsk decreased amid the fuel market situation.
The growth of container throughput in Big Port St. Petersburg was as high as 13%, in Ust-Luga – about 9.5% (in TEUs). Big Port St. Petersburg also demonstrated the growth in the segment of Ro-Ro cargo – up 35% (in units). This trend should be attributed to gradual recovery of consumer demand and to the development of port Bronka.
The surge in the Caspian basin, after a long fall, was driven mainly by the transit of Kazakh oil via the port of Makhachkala. In the segment of dry bulk cargo, it was driven by transshipment of grain bound for Iran.
So, the results of HI’2018 confirmed the trends seen earlier: port industry of Russia is in urgent need of more deepwater facilities focused on transshipment of dry bulk cargo like coal, grain and mineral fertilizers, which, in its turn, necessitates the development of railway approaches to the ports.