Norebo invests $45m to modernize way fish shipped from Russian Far East
Russia’s Norebo Holding is investing RUB 3 billion ($45 million) in a Far East shipping terminal in Kamchatka, in order to modernize the way fish is transported from the remote region.
The company is establishing a “state-of-the-art” international sea terminal to provide “end-to-end services for fishing vessels”, as well as transshipment of refrigerated and dry containerized freight, said Sergey Sennikov, the chief sustainability officer of Russia's largest fishing company, which has recently moved into the country's coldwater shrimp fishery.
Norebo’s Seroglazka (or grey eye, in English) Terminal project “is an alternative to the traditional transportation methods used in Russia for decades”, he said.
The traditional way is to send fish, not in containers, to Vladivostok and then by railway to the western part of Russia or ship via the south passage, which takes much longer, he told Undercurrent News.
With the Seroglazka Terminal, Norebo can receive fish from refrigerating vessels and put it in containers in Kamchatka, then ship on large container carriers by sea, via the so-called “Northeast Passage”, a shipping route to western Russia, Europe, and the US through the Arctic, he said.
“Some containers can be transported to Vladivostok to be placed on larger ships that, at the moment, can’t stay at our quay because of depth limitation. Or, they can be further transported by railway,” said Sennikov. “In all cases, we put fish in containers first in Kamchatka, which makes it much easier to transport it either to Russian market or other markets, like Europe or North America.”
Norebo has invested RUB 700 million in the project already but plans to put RUB 3bn into it in total. The additional investment is going into building a deep-water quay with a length of 280 meters and designed draft of 14m.
“This quay will be able to provide services for Panamax-type [mid-sized cargo vessels capable of passing through the lock chambers of the Panama Canal] vessels that can proceed with cargo via the Northeast Passage,” said Sennikov. “New equipment will be purchased and installed, as well. These works are planned for 2019.”
A new cold storage facility is under construction and will be commissioned in November 2019, Sennikov told Undercurrent.
“This project is developing. We’ve recently even managed to send a large Maersk vessel with containers from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg through the Northeast Passage,” he said. This was fish from Norebo’s fleet and also from other companies.
The first large Maersk Line vessel came to the terminal in August 2017. In August 2018, Venta Maersk, another large vessel from the Danish shipping giant, left Vladivostok with a cargo of 600 containers of seafood -- about 15,000 metric tons -- and headed to St. Petersburg via the Northeast Passage.
The cargo of refrigerated containers was first accumulated in Kamchatka at the Seroglazka Terminal and then transferred to Vladivistok, said Sennikov.
“The large Maersk vessels can’t use Seroglazka now, it’s too shallow for them. But, soon after some dredging of the quay area and the additional improvements, the terminal will be able to provide services for the large container ships that Maersk operates,” he said.
This shipment was a joint project between Norebo, Maersk and Kamchatka Lines. The vessel will arrive to St. Petersburg at the end of September.
Also, Seroglazka isn’t only for use by Norebo vessels. “The terminal provides services for all fishing companies, not only Norebo, and also functions as a terminal for dry goods, not just fish,” he said.
The traditional system is for reefers to go to South Korea to land fish that was previously transshipped at sea on the fishing grounds.
“Now, we can sort of pull this part of [the] services from [South] Korea or China to Kamchatka, which is closer to fishing grounds,” he said. “So, it is cheaper to transport both to main Russian markets and foreign markets and it takes a shorter [amount of] time.”
Shipping to St. Petersburg via the northeast route will take 35 days, compared to 60 via the south passage.
“It can take two weeks, or even faster, to send by railway. But, there is a shortage of containers or refrigerated railcars in Vladivostok. You sometimes land fish in Vladivostok and then wait weeks for a possibility to send it by railway, paying for cold store [while you wait],” he said.
“This year, the situation is even more complicated as the catch of pink salmon is very high and all cold store facilities are overloaded. Our terminal is a good opportunity to avoid some of the problems for wild-caught fish,” said Sennikov.
“Our terminal is a good improvement of the logistic situation in Russian Far East.”