• 2014 February 17

    Million-scale dredging

    Russia expects over 170 mln cbm to be dredged in 2014-17. This large-scale dredging cannot be performed without foreign companies which actually prevail in Russia’s dredging market today.

    According to the Port Infrastructure Development Strategy, total annual capacity of Russia’s seaports is to reach 1.4-1.6 bln t of cargo by 2030 depending on the scenario. It is 1.5-2 times as much as today. This development is to be driven primarily by new deepwater terminals the construction of which requires large-scale dredging of record-high level in the history of Russia. As Rosmorport Executive Director Andrei Lavrishchev said at the International Forum of Dredging Companies organized by media-group PortNews, the scope of dredging operations of FSUE Rosmorport is expected to exceed 170 mln cbm in 2014-17 including 31.1 mln cbm in 2014 and 140 mln cbm in 2015-17. In 2009-13, only 57.8 mln cbm were dredged.

    Andrei Lavrishchev says dredging at Yamal-based port Sabetta alone will hit 70.2 mln cbm in 2014-17, dredging under the project on construction of deepwater port in Kaliningrad region (cruise terminal) - 20 mln cbm, under the second phase of Bronka project – 10.8 mln cmb in 2017-18 (after completion of the first phase with dredging of 18.7 mln cbm in 2013-16). As for the project on the creation of the new dry cargo district of port Taman covered at the Forum by Igor Rusu, Director General of RMP-Taman LLC (managing company of the project), 49.3 mln cbm is to be dredged there.

    The largest dredging projects in Russia are being performed by foreign companies today. The majority of works at port Sabetta are executed by Jan De Nul (Belgium), at outer port Bronka – Boskalis (Netherlands).

    The most challenging task for dredgers is the Ob Bay project (port Sabetta). The general contractor there is USK MOST OJSC, the contractor on dredging operations – Jan De Nul, while engineering/navigational/hydro-graphic support is provided by Fertoing company. 

    As Artem Melnikov, Director General of Fertoing Ltd., told at the Forum, the time spent for dredging operations at the approach canal of port Sabetta totaled 48 calendar days in 2012.  Round-the-clock operations lasted from August 29 till October 15, 2012 at the 3.7-km long section of the approach canal.  Total volume of dredging operations exceeded 1.5 mln cbm in 2012.

    The difficulties are mostly associated with the remoteness of this region from the infrastructure and supply centers as well as with the severe climate. According to Stijn Juresic, Project Manager Sabetta of Jan De Nul N.V., the company’s dredging fleet involved in the project on construction of port Sabetta used to consume over 1 mln liters of bunker. Besides, a special vessel was used for delivery of food and water, as well as for waste transportation to remote ports. Stijn Juresic says the most difficult task was to coordinate the activities of different project participants as parallel to dredging operations the port handled vessels delivering equipment and materials needed for the construction of LNG plant.

    Companies operating in the Gulf of Finland also face certain challenges. As Mark Bakker,  Country Manager for Royal Boskalis Westminster in the Russian Federation said at the Forum they were connected with the dam and the underwater tunnel towards Kronshtadt that could not be checked during the dredging works. Besides, high quality standard was applied to the sand for outer port Bronka. The company succeeded in meeting all the challenges.

    As for Taman project and cruise terminal in Kaliningrad, no dredging contractors have been determined yet. Igor Rusu said at the Forum that the tender for Taman will be announced by the end of 2014 with the works to commence in the middle or in the second half of 2015. Meanwhile, RMP-Taman LLC has already requested for proposals which revealed that potential contractors “overestimate” the value of works. According to Igor Rusu, the major part of the water area is to be 19.5 m deep, certain areas will have the depth of -18.2 m, - 15.3 m, -12.7 m and 7.1 m. The project implies the construction of 10 sea terminals including 4 terminal which will be probably built at reclaimed territory covering 204.35 hectares. The plot is to be created with the soil extracted during the dredging in the water area and at the approach canal. 16.75 mln cbm of soil is subject to deposition.

    Russia has embarked on such a large-scale dredging projects for the first time in the country’s history. Their implementation even required the amendment of the existing legislation. According to Deputy Transport Minister Victor Olersky, when designing seaport Sabetta in the Ob Bay it became clear that expenses for dredging works are several times as high as similar expenses for burial of ground directly in the Ob Bay. However, certain norms of Russian legislation were to be amended for this. The result of the long work was the Federal Law No 87-FL dated May 7, 2013 “On introduction of amendments into the Law About the Internal Sea Waters, Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone and the Water Code”. The new law allows the burial of ground in the territorial sea provided that certain conditions are met.

    Representatives of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Nadezhda Zhikhareva, and Yulia Osipova told at the Forum that their Ministries are involved in the development of new regulations to support the above law. Nadezhda Zhikhareva, deputy Director of the Department of State Policy for Marine and River Transport, says major documents needed for the execution of the Law should contain the list of harmful substances the presence of which in the ground forbid it from being buried in the territorial sea. Besides, the document should set forth the procedure for the use of bottom soil when building hydraulic facilities. 

    We remind that the above Law lifts the ban on the burial of ground in the internal sea waters and the territorial sea except for the cases when the ground contains harmful substances the list of which is to be approved.

    Apart from large-scale dredging projects in seaports Russia is to carry out repair dredging at inland water ways. Andrei Lavrishchev says repair dredging is being performed by Russian companies as the scope of works is not huge and fast mobilization is required. The volume of repair dredging is increasing starting from 2013. In 2011-13 it was 6.6 mln cbm per year, in 2013 – 8.2 mln cbm, with the year of 2014 to see dredging of 8.2 mln cbm, 2015 – 10.15 mln cbm and 2016 – 10.41 mln cbm.

    The change of hydrological conditions at the Volgo-Caspian Seaway Canal entails the lowering of the Caspian Sea level. Scientists say the level of the Caspian Sea has decreased by 60 cm. According to Andrei Lavrishchev, the volume of dredging operations at the Volgo-Caspian Seaway Canal is estimated at 3.6 mln cbm for 2014. To decrease sediment accumulation it is necessary to clean the existing fishways and recovery of protective dams.

    The demand for dredging operations at inland water ways of Russia is estimated at 90 mln cbm, says Igor Zlobin, head of IWW department of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot). According to him, the volume of dredging operations performed at inland water ways of Russia in 2013 hit 30 mln cbm.

    Rosmorrechflot representative also draws the attention to the aging and insufficient fleet of river-going dredging vessels. He says new vessels should be built, especially tailored for Siberian rivers. All in all, Russia needs 25 new dredgers for inland water ways. According to Igor Zlobin, the following equipment is required: 15 suction dredgers including 4 with the capacity of 2,500 cbm\h, 1 with the capacity of 1,000 cbm/h, 7 with the capacity of 600 cbm/h and 3 with the capacity of 350 cbm/h; 10 dredgers including 2 with the capacity of 600 cbm/h, 1 with the capacity of 450 cbm/h and 7 with the capacity of 250 cbm/h.

    It should be noted that Russia has specialized enterprises for construction of dredging fleet. According to Evgeny Leonov, BoD member of Zavod Gidromekhanizatsii CJSC, who spoke at the Forum of Dredging Companies, Russia needs to become strategically independent of the services provided by foreign dredging companies. For that purpose, Russia should obtain her own dredging fleet. According to the estimations of Evgeny Leonov, 76 dredging vessels can be built on the revenues from the dredging operations under largest port projects (Sabetta, Bronka and Taman). 

    Within the framework of the state programme for the development of Arctic coast, Zavod Gidromekhanizatsii CJSC, has recently forwarded for the expert evaluation the concept for the series of special high-performance dredgers (operating in Northern and Arctic regions) – “Hydromech – Arctic Dredger”.

    Nevertheless, we think large port projects in Russia cannot be fulfilled without attraction of leading foreign dredging companies. Moreover, they can also share their invaluable experience, both technical and administrative one. For example, Joep Athmer, the member of the Executive Committee of Van Oord (Netherlands) says his company eyes the cooperation with Russian educational institutions training marine and river transport specialists. Joep Athme told that Van Oord has its own training class at the head office in Rotterdam where the company specialists are trained. There are simulators of trailing suction hopper dredgers, backhoe dredgers and cutter suction dredgers. The company also arranges leadership development programs (from junior to strategic management), technical practices 2-3 times a year, instruction and training on operation security.

    So, through cooperation of private investors of port projects, FSUE Rosmorport, state structures, construction and specialized companies, including foreign ones, Russia can develop her own comprehensive dredging industry competitive with the best foreign practices. In this context, operation of foreign dredging companies in Russia will contribute to Russia’s dredging market competitiveness if correct approach is applied to its regulation. 

    Vitaly Chernov