• 2015 September 25

    Deep insight into Kaliningrad

    Kaliningrad Region still perseveres in its attempts to build a deepwater cargo port. Passenger and LNG terminals are considered as the port’s components. Three variants have been elaborated for a port valued at RUB 207 bln and requiring dredging of 103,000 cbm of material.

    To compete with Gdynia

    Kaliningrad Region Government is not going to scrap the idea of building a deepwater cargo port, Aleksei Klyuneyev,  Advisor to the Region Governor, said at the Baltic Transport Forum held in Kaliningrad in September 2015.  According to him, there is a plan to order a feasibility study from a specialized organisation. Aleksei Klyuneyev believes a deepwater port would let compete with hub ports of Poland.

    There are three variants of the port under consideration today. Depending on the variant, the port is to handle 46 mln t to 50.3 mln t of cargo per year. Its construction is estimated at RUB 186 bln to RUB 207.2 bln. The scope of dredging works – from 22,000 cbm to over 100,000 cbm. Turnover of vessels – from 3,320 to 3,970 calls per year.

    Major characteristics of the deepwater port


    Variant 1

    Variant 2

    Variant 3

    Cargo throughput, mln t per year




    Passenger throughput, thousand passengers per year

    400 -1,000

    400 -1,000

    400 -1,000

    Turnover of vessels, calls per year




    Number of berths




    Waterfront length, meters




    Land reclamation, thousand cbm




    Water area dredging, thousand cbm




    Approach canal dredging, thousand cbm




    Protecting structures, meters




    Estimated cost, mln rubles




    The project suggests the construction of a container, RO-RO, general, loose bulk cargo, liquid bulk cargo and regasification terminals, LNG bunker base, port fleet base, logistic center and general port facilities.

    As before, the idea is in creating a hub port to handle cargo delivered by ocean shipping lines for further transportation by feeder vessels, road and railway transport.

    According to Aleksei Klyuneyev, the Region’s advantage is in its double-track railway infrastructure including both European rail gauge (1,435 mm) and the Russian one (1,520 mm) and requiring no axle-changing, as well as in well developed road infrastructure.

    Meanwhile, tariff policy of the railway companies in Latvia and Belarus hinders railway transit from the Kaliningrad Region to other regions of Russia. Transit via Lithuania with its 15-pct share in terms of distance (up to Novolipetsk) makes 32% of total transportation costs; via Belarus with its 33-pct share – 28% of transportation costs. A decision has been made to compensate those costs from the federal budget starting from April 1, 2016. Yet, this compensation will cover only inland transportation, not the transit via the port of Kaliningrad.

    In the context of transit, cargo shipping from the port of Kaliningrad to other regions of Russia seems to be more reasonable. But ferries’ size and draught limits should be overcome at the port. Today, the port of Kaliningrad can handle ships of up to 200 meters in length and up to 9.5 meters in draught. This problem is supposed to be solved through the construction of a passenger terminal at Pionersky settlement. It is to be completed by the FIFA World Cup 2018. The passenger terminal project implies dredging of up to 800,000 cbm of material. Two berths of the terminal with the total waterfront of 585 meters will have the depth of 11.5 meters, four berths (470-meter long waterfront) – 9.5 meters.  The scope of land reclamation works – 700,000 cbm.

    The construction has not been started yet. The competition for comprehensive engineering survey and development of project documentation was announced by FSUE Rosmorport only in August 2015.

    As Leonid Stepanyuk, Chairman of the Transport and Customs Policy Committee at Kaliningrad Region’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said at the Forum, regional authorities should insist on inclusion of the deepwater port project into the programme for financing the projects from Russia’s Information Fund or National Welfare Fund. Leonid Stepanyuk also says an independent branch of Rosmorport and Basin Administration should be established in the region.

    One should admit it is not the best time to promote large scale projects depending on federal financing: RF Government is permanently thinking about reduction of expenses. Moreover, the project was criticized even in more favorable periods and financing planned for a deepwater port in the Kaliningrad Region was redirected to other projects. Experts considered it to be unreasonable to spend enormous state resources for construction of a deepwater port in Kaliningrad as well-developed container terminals are available in Saint-Petersburg including deepwater Bronka and Ust-Luga Container Terminal. 

    Perhaps, it is time to consider organisation of a regular container line between the Kaliningrad and Leningrad Regions which would service cargo flows generated in Russia. It could be of a particular interest amid low bunker prices, general focus on import substitution and reduction of container imports. The more so as Gazprom is looking into building an LNG regasification terminal in the Kaliningrad Region. It could be probably used for bunkering of boxships operating in the Baltic Sea, which is a sulphur emission control area.

    Vitaly Chernov