• 2018 November 19

    Dry bulk transshipment via Baltic ports

    Transshipment of Russian mineral fertilizers, ore and grain via the ports of the Baltic states surged in the 9-month period of 2018 but the trend can change with the appearance of a terminal handling mineral fertilizers in Ust-Luga, building up coal transshipment and creation of a dry cargo area at the port of Primorsk.

    To spite the neighbor

    According to RF Transport Ministry, transshipment of Russian mineral fertilizers via the ports of the Baltic states grew by 17% to 6.02 million tonnes, ore – by 48.4% to 2.04 million tonnes, grain – 3.7 times to 1.6 million tonnes while coal transshipment fell by 3.8% to 12.68 million tonnes.

    The bulk of Russian coal exported via the ports of the Baltic Sea is handled by Latvian ports. Yet, the trend is different in the ports of Latvia: Ventspils and Liepaja have lost the volumes while Riga saw a 8-pct increase to 9.58 million tonnes. 

    General decrease of coal transshipment via the ports of Baltic states should be attributed to its increased transshipment via the port of Ust-Luga with its Yug-2 terminal which used to handle mostly containers and Ro-Ro cargo and now embarked on coal handling. In 2018, the terminal is going to reach a result of 4 million tonnes. 

    However, dependence of Russia on Baltic ports in the coal segment is still quite high. Perhaps, it can be partially mitigated with the construction of Lavna port in the Murmansk Region. This project is being implemented as part of the programme on comprehensive development of Murmansk Transport Hub. Coal transshipment can be also boosted in the Baltic ports of Russia (Rosterminalugol, MRC, Port Vysotsky, Yug-2).
    Multipurpose Reloading Complex (MRC) in Ust-Luga has boosted investments in development this year. In the 9-months period, they surged 6-fold to RUB 294.2 million with a part of allocations spent for pre-project works focused on expansion of the terminal’s handling capacity.

    Rosterminalugol, a dedicated coal terminal in Ust-Luga, has invested more than RUB 500 million in replacement of its railcar dumper. That will let the terminal build up its daily capacity to 950 railcars in winter and up to 1,200 railcars in summer. The terminal’s new railcar dumper will also let facilitate handling of innovative railcars including those with axle load of 27 tonnes.

    As for mineral fertilizers, this dependence can disappear with the construction of a dedicated terminal in Ust-Luga with annual capacity of 12 million tonnes per year: in late October 2018 URALCHEM Holding P.L.C. and Ultramar LLC announced signing of a Memorandum on Cooperation in this respect.

    Most of Russian mineral fertilizers are currently exported via Estonian ports of Paldiski and Muuga as well as Latvian ports of Riga, Ventspils and Ziemelblazma. If the mentioned project is implemented, the deficit of dedicated facilities in Russia’s Baltic regions will be fully eliminated.

    Moreover, Ust-Luga Company and Novotrans Group are developing a joint project known as Lugaport. It is a multifunctional transportation/transshipment complex including terminals for transshipment of grain, food, dry bulk and general cargo. The facility’s annual throughput capacity is 20-25 million tonnes with handling of 1,100 railcars/day. 

    Among the promising plans is also a project on construction of a dry cargo area at the port of Primorsk with annual capacity of 36 million tonnes (mineral fertilizers, metal scrap, grain). Investments into the project are estimated at some RUB 70 billion. Rosmorrechflot has already approved the Declaration of Intent on the project implementation. The project foresees the construction of new railway line between Losevo and Kamennogorsk. In August 2018, RF Government signed and Order on additional allocation of RUB 1.79 billion for construction of this line.

    Vitaly Chernov