• 2019 February 18

    Flag and Freight

    The draft strategy for the development of service exports till 2025 foresees the construction of a fleet of Russian-flagged containerships. The United Shipbuilding Corporation confirms being involved in preliminary negotiations on construction of such ships. There is a design of a 3,000 TEU container carrier intended for operation in the Southern Basin. Such vessels could be in demand both in southern seas and on the Northern Sea Route.

    North and South

    The Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation has drafted a Strategy for the development of service exports covering a period through 2025. Among other things, the document emphasizes the necessity to build a fleet of line containerships to sail under the flag of the Russian Federation.

    A strategic role in ensuring high exports of transport services and general expansion of non-resource exports will be played by a creation and development of a national fleet of containerships flying the flag of Russia and involved in direct shipping of containerized cargo as well as by expansion of the national fleet of different containers.  That, together with the development of the Northern Sea Route, will let Russia become an influential player in the global ocean with its own container and other logistics, with a well-developed multimodal port infrastructure, says the document.

    The United Shipbuilding Corporation told IAA PortNews that there is an interest to construction of such ships. USC also says it is involved in preliminary negotiations in this respect. Yet, USC was speaking about sea-and-river class ships.

    “United Shipbuilding Corporation is ready to build any sea-and-river class ships including container carriers. In terms of structure, they are slightly more sophisticated than dry cargo carrier which are under serial construction by USC. There were no requests until recently since a regular container flow is needed for their loading. The interest to such ships is seen now while the negotiations are of preliminary character”, USC comments.

    According to the players of container shipping market asked by IAA PortNews, Russian fleet will find it difficult or even impossible to compete with global container carriers. Therefore, it would be more reasonable to acquire a control stake of one of the global operators already successful in the market or use a different way of entering into a partnership with one of well-known players. In this respect, we should remember China, a powerful player in terms of non-resource exports, which started promoting its own container operator, COSCO, only in recent years. Yet, Russia has no cargo base comparable to that of China.

    “The level of this market monopolization is very high. Therefore, with a share of ports accounting for about 0.5% of the total container turnover it is a challenge to create an efficient line business without a partner, a real market player”, comments Gennady Yegorov, Genera Director of Marine Engineering Bureau.

    Nevertheless, several projects requiring permanent fleet of containers have been announced in Russia. 

    In our opinion, the most realistic one is the Kaliningrad-Bronka (Saint-Petersburg) line with a loading of 100 containers per departure. Containerships intended for this line could be equipped with a gas fuel system complying with IMO requirements on sulfur content in fuel for vessels sailing in the Baltic Sea. That would simultaneously contribute to the development of infrastructure for LNG bunkering in the Baltic Basin of Russia.

    Another project is aimed at arranging regular transportation of fish from the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the European part of Russia (Murmansk, Arkhangelsk). The Kamchatka Development Corporation estimate the loading of this line at 1 million tonnes per year. Read more about the project >>>> 

    Besides, there is a plan to establish a Syria-Crimea shipping company with the project to be prepared by 1 March 2019. This company will perform regular shipping between Syria’s Latakia and Crimea. So far, its functioning is planned with chartering of four ships available in the market.

    Moreover, Russia’s transportation group FESCO operates container ships but the company declined to comment.

    According to Gennady Yegorov, under certain conditions, container carriers sailing under the flag of the Russian Federation can be in demand in the southern Basin and on the Northern Sea Route. “If it is economically reasonable and if there is a partner among the active players, it could be viable to build ‘southern’ container ships of 3,000 – 4,500 TEUs in capacity”, believes Gennady Yegorov.

    When it comes the Northern Sea Route, the exert says that container ships of about 3,000 TEUs could operate on the line between Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Murmansk where containers could be transshipped on conventional container carriers and vice versa. A direct line is also possible between the ports of the Asia-Pacific region and the ports of Western Europe. 

    According to the estimations of Marine Engineering Bureau, ‘southern’ container carrier of 3,000 TEUs in capacity would cost $40 million if built in S. Korea or in China, with 4,500 TEU ships to cost about $52 million. Arctic ships of the same type would be much more expensive, while they are not built anywhere today.

    In Russia, such ships can be built by Shipbuilding Complex “Zvezda” in the Primorsky Territory or by Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in Saint-Petersburg. Such ships are to have the following particulars: length - 200 to 290 meters, width – 32.2 meters, depth – up to 19.5 meters, draft - 11 to 12.5 meters, weight – 13,000 to 18,000 tonnes depending on capacity.

    Vitaly Chernov