• 2014 July 10

    New edition of old priorities

    Public Council of Russia’s Transport Ministry has approved the draft Port Development Strategy through 2030. According to the revised document, the ports of Crimea are to be developed primarily as passenger ports, dry cargo district of port Taman is to be built in conjunction with the bridge across the Kerch Strait while port facilities are to be developed outside city limits.

    Crimean prospects

    The Strategy for the Development of Port Infrastructure through 2030 has been elaborated by FSUE Rosmorport for a long time. However, new events in the country require partial revision of the plans and expansion of the Strategy with new ones.

    The accession of Crimea to Russia means the need to adjust the plans on the development of Russia’s Black Sea ports.

    Earlier, both expert community and the federal bodies considered the development of Crimean ports as cargo terminals and suggested renouncing of the project on construction of dry cargo district at port Taman as well as converting of Naval Base in Novorossiysk into cargo handling facilities (considering the availability of Naval Base in Sevastopol). However, experts of the Public Council of the Transport Ministry have found these proposals to be unreasonable. According to Public Council Chairman Mikhail Blinkin, Crimean ports cannot replace dedicated deepwater terminals planned in Taman. First of all, they are not deep enough. Secondly, they are focused on tourism. Thirdly, there are serous political risks associated with the international situation related to Crimea. Deputy Minister of Transport Victor Olersky supported this opinion and underlined that major prospects of Crimean ports are based on passenger transportation.

    The Public Council emphasized the necessity to go on with the project on construction of a dry cargo district of port Taman. “One of the basic tasks of port infrastructure development in Russia is to create dedicated deepwater terminals. Dry cargo district of port Taman is the one, dedicated deepwater port ... It is a grand project developed in details with the interested investors...”, Mikhail Blinkin said.

    According to Victor Olersky, transport infrastructure of the Kerch Strait passage is to be linked to that of the dry cargo district in Taman. The official says that integrated approaches to the dry port and to the bridge will cost some RUB 25 bln. The project implementation is supposed to contribute to Crimea development, the meeting participants say.

    As for the project on conversion of the Naval Base in Novorossiysk into cargo handling facilities, Victor Olersky considers it to be unreasonable. Besides, it was not discussed with the Ministry of Defence. The plot of land there is less than 10 hectares, there is no railway while a highway runs across the city. Besides, the is no a mooring line, the depth is only 6-7 meters while the soil within the port’s water area has the highest category of dredging difficulty hence its cost is almost 10 times as high as in Taman (up to RUB 2,500  per cbm against RUB 280/cbm in Taman).

    At the same time, the development strategy of Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port implies the development of the existing cargo districts and building up of their capacity by 11 mln t per year with containers and grain through reconstruction of the grain terminal. Yet, the port development is limited by its location within the city boundaries.

    Moreover, the project on construction of the north-east district of port Kavkaz will most likely be postponed, Victor Olersky said. “I’m sure, port Kavkaz is a right place but the targets there are somewhat different today,” he explained. The official also sees no prospects for the development of throughput in Russian ports of the Azov Sea.

    Not by South alone

    There are not many changes for other Basins in the Strategy. In the Arctic Basin, the Strategy is focused on the Murmansk Transportation Hub. According to Victor Olersky, this project complies with the ideology of the Strategy saying that port facilities should be developed outside the big cities. 

    In the Baltic Basin, there are applications of investors for the development of container facilities in Big Port St. Petersburg. “Actually, we do not very much support those plans, - Deputy Transport Minister said – but we do not see any mechanisms to prevent them. Investment decisions will be taken basing on the market situation depending on the development of port Bronka and Ust-Luga”. 

    In this context, we think that the project of Marine Multipurpose Complex Bronka perfectly meets the Strategy message as Bronka is located beyond the core of Saint-Petersburg. 

    As for the Kaliningrad region, former plans on construction of a deepwater cargo port there are not reflected in the Strategy. Instead, a container terminal focused on local needs is to be reconstructed and a passenger terminal is to be built there. 

    The Far East targets of the Strategy are port Vostochny (introduction of facilities for 50 mln t including the development of 9-mln t facilities in Kozmino Bay) and port Vanino (introduction of facilities of up to 50 mln t of coal in capacity).

    However, the capacity of railway is not sufficient in the region. Taking into consideration the plans of the investors concerning the ports of the Far East Basin, the volume of export/import cargoes delivered by railways can increase from 73 mln t in 2013 to 173 mln t by 2020. Even with the project being implemented by Russian Railways for boosting of railway deliveries to the ports to 117 mln t, the deficit of railway capacity will make some RUB 56 mln t. Experts say the problem can only be solved with additional investment of some RUB 722 bln without expenses for replacement of fixed assets or reconstruction of engineering structures. Besides, about RUB 180 bln are required for reconstruction of remote approaches at Mezhdurechensk-Taishet sector.

    To deliver cargo from some fields investments are required into construction of approaches (approximately 900 km including 460-kilometer long Kyzyl-Kuragina railway). One kilometer of approaches can cost about RUB 500 mln.

    In general, fast implementation of large-scale port projects is not possible without the federal budget, Victor Olersky says.

    So the Strategy provides for gradual growth of Russian ports capacity. According to the forecasts of the Transport Ministry, throughput of Russian ports is to increase by 5.3% to 620 mln t in 2014. The growth is to be primarily driven by the increased transshipment of coal and containers. The Strategy also says that by 2030 throughput of seaports can increase to 1 bln t per year, capacity – to 1.3 bln t per year.

    Vitaly Chernov