Relevant topics

2019 May 14

Yury Kostin: “We should protect both the state rights and the business interests”

Yury Kostin, Director of the State Policy Department for Maritime and River Transport of the Russian Transport Ministry, tells IAA PortNews about legislative changes related to stevedoring and shipping activities.  

- Mr. Kostin, let me start with issues related to stevedoring activities. The transformation of FSUE Rosmorport into a joint-stock company is in the spotlight today. How is the work on the bill going on?

- Transformation of Rosmorport into a JSC will be performed via a dedicated federal law being currently drafted by the Ministry of Transport. The current legislation provides for corporatization without a special law. For example conversion of FSUE Morsvyazsputnik into a JSC is foreseen without signing of a law. In the case of Rosmorport, it was decided to choose a way of signing a law so that it could settle all disputes and fully protect both the state rights for the federal property and incomes from it and the rights of lessees. 

I know that sea berths lessees think that the Board of Directors of a joint stock company can take a decision on termination of lease agreements. Therefore, the draft law contains a limiting list of cases that can lead to termination of a lease agreement. By all means, the rights of a lessee should be protected. 

Yet, I admit, that some operators of infrastructure use such a rhetoric to conceal their aspiration to privatize the property they take lease of. 

The position of the Ministry of Transport is unambiguous: we consider it to be unreasonable. 

The draft law is currently undergoing a procedure of approval by federal authorities upon completion of which it is to be submitted to the Ministry of Justice and the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation.

- When will coal stevedores start applying the best available technologies (BATs)?

- Large coal terminals are already applying the BATs. So as to make those technologies a statutory provision to be applied by all stevedoring companies, the legislation is to be amended: it is necessary to make advanced technologies for coal transshipment obligatory as well as specification of equipment for terminals handling dusty materials. Such instructions have been given by the President of the Russian Federation.

The Government has already introduced amendments in the list of areas for application of the BATs. Today, stevedoring companies are obliged to apply them for reduction of pollutant emissions when handling coal in seaports.

That entailed the necessity to introduce amendments into the information and technical reference book “Reduction of pollution discharges in the course of storage and safekeeping of goods and cargoes”. The work is to be completed in May 2019.

The Ministry of Transport is also developing amendments to be introduced into the technical regulations on seaborne transport security to correlate them with the BAT Reference Book. Upon obtaining of the approval, the draft amendments will be submitted to the RF Government according to established procedure.

When amendments come into effect, stevedoring companies will be obliged to apply BATs for reduction on pollutant emissions in the course of coal handling at seaports.

I am sure, these measures will let create a regulatory framework for minimization of negative impact of coal dust on the environment. We will monitor compliance with environmental requirements in ports. 

I would like to note that the Ministry of Transport has drafted amendments to be introduced into the Law on Seaports to formalize in legislation a possibility to terminate the agreement on the lease of federal property, completely or partially, upon a request of a lessor in case of lessee’s non-compliance with instructions given by sanitary-and-epidemiologic and environmental watchdogs.

Lessee’s activities can be suspended by a court in case of repeated non-fulfilment of watchdogs’ instructions. The draft law is currently being prepared for submission to the Government.

- When will investment port dues be collected in Russian seaports?

- In pursuance of the presidential order on investments in port infrastructure amid the limited budget financing, the Ministry of Transport has suggested collecting a new port due – investment due. It will be used to finance construction and reconstruction of federally owned port infrastructure facilities. 

The draft document entitles the Government to set the size of port investment dues, the procedure for its collection and application in seaports of the Russian Federation.

The due is to be applicable to foreign-going vessels. So, it is to be paid by ship owners involved in foreign trade activities, both Russian and foreign ones. These are the companies the port dues load of which has decreased considerably since 2014 with the reduction of exchange-value of rouble and retaining of rouble port dues.

The draft document was submitted to the Government of the Russian Federation in October 2018.

- When speaking about calls and ship owners, I cannot but ask about the monitoring of bunker fuel the requirements on which toughened in 2015. What does port control show in the part of SOX emissions?

- Sulfur content in fuel used I the Baltic Sea area should not exceed 0.1% from 1 January 2015 if a ship is not equipped with an approved system for treatment of emission gases aimed at reduction of SOX emissions. Compliance with the above-mentioned requirements is under permanent control in Russian ports of the Baltic Sea. 

Prior to entry into SECAs fuel systems of ships should be washed to ensure that engines are driven by fuel with low content of sulfur. 

The amount of low-sulfur fuel should be sufficient for a ship to cross a SECA. Bunker Delivery Note and fuel samples are under control. In case of any violations and selectively fuel samples are taken to be analyzed by an independent laboratory that has obtained a state accreditation. 

In 2018, 102 samples were taken in Russian ports of the Gulf of Finland. Excessive content of sulfur was revealed in four of them. I would like to highlight the positive trend versus the year of 2017 when excessive sulfur content was revealed in 9 samples of the total 108. All cases ended with ship detainment till remedial actions.

Given the significance of the measures on prevention of air pollution, sampling is continued in 2019.

- This year is to see amendments into the regulations on the NSR navigation. What are they

- Regulations on shipping along the Northern Sea Route are being changed in compliance with amendments introduced into the Merchant Shipping Code. Earlier, regulations were to be approved by the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, now it is the Decree of RF Government. 

The regulations will not undergo any principal changes, the document is based on the same principles. The new rules prepared by Rosatom have been approved by the Ministry of Transport. The draft document was prepared by a working group of Rosmorrechflot in June-September 2018 basing on the compliance practices accumulated from 2013. 

There are some changes related to admission of vessels into the waters of the Northern Sea Route. In particular, Arc-4 ships are allowed all-year-round in some areas (for example, in the south-western part of the Kara Sea) with obligatory assistance of icebreakers.

Besides, the limits and the number of navigation areas have been changed. Earlier, the Northern Sea Route waters were divided into 8 large areas, which used to hinder operation of vessels. I will explain: coastal waters are free of ice earlier and vessels of mixed river-sea navigation deployed for northern deliveries could sail in ice-free waters along the coast but such voyages were not possible with Roshydromet classifying such conditions as moderate. Now, the number of areas has been increased to let vessels work longer in ice-free waters. 

We expect the draft decree of the Government on NSR shipping regulations to be submitted to RF Government in the nearest future. 

- Administration of inland water transport was reorganized several years ago. Has it improved the situation?

- Indeed, new administration system for inland water transport has been in effect from 20 August 2012.
In my opinion, it is a successful system. River basins administrations, Harbour Masters of IWW basins, port control inspections have confirmed the efficiency of the new system over this period of time. The statistics also confirms that, including emergency prevention statistics. I suppose that ship owners has also felt that.

Regulatory documents on state port control have been regulated appropriately as well. No amendments have been introduced since 2012. According to Rostransnadzor, information system of state port control lets monitor each ship data. 

Risk-oriented approach was applied in river shipping segment back in 2012 with other sectors just starting introducing it today.

Interviewed by Nadezhda Malysheva