• 2020 March 5

    A matter of dredging and hydraulic engineering

    The scope of dredging and hydraulic engineering works in Russia is expected to grow this year. A series of 20 units is to be built for operations on inland water ways. Damen shares its innovative technologies with the industry. Those and other topics were in the spotlight of the 3rd International Congress “Hydraulic Engineering Structures and Dredging”.

    Who is digging deep

    Today, dredging in Russia is the responsibility of FSUE Rosmorport (seaports and access canals), basin departments of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (inland water ways) and Federal State Unitary Hydrographic Department (seaports and approaches to them along the Northern Sea Route). Heads of those bodies spoke at the Congress and answered the participants’ questions.

    According to Alexander Poshivay, Acting Head of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot), the Agency implements the federal projects focused on the development of Russia’s seaports, inland water ways and partially the Northern Sea Route.

    “Implementation of some projects will let us redirect Russian cargo flows from the orts of foreign states, ensure access to transport infrastructure for small-size and mid-size coal mining companies … as well as build up export potential of Russian manufacturers with the development of competitive port infrastructure”, said Alexander Poshivay.

    When speaking at the Congress, Andrey Lavrishchev, General Director of FSUE Rosmorport, said that the scope of dredging planned by FSUE Rosmorport for 2020 is to total 18.4 million cbm. According to him, 8.6 million cbm of material is to be dredged under maintenance projects with 9.83 million cbm to be dredged under new projects. The scope of dredging to be performed by Rosmorport’s own facilities is estimated at 7 million cbm, which is similar to the volumes of the previous year.

    In 2019, Rosmorport's dredging totaled 10.3 million cbm including 8.6 million cbm of maintenance dredging.

    Among the prime projects on the development of port infrastructure requiring large-scale dredging Rosmorport head mentioned the construction of a multipurpose terminal in Ust-Luga (Novotrans-Aktiv LLC, scope of dredging - 12 million cbm), Taman terminal for dry bulk cargo (OTEKO-Portservis, scope of dredging – 30.5 million cbm), coal terminal in Sukhodol bay of Vladivostok port (scope of dredging – 7.1 million cbm). By April 2021, Rosmorport is also set to complete dredging under NOVATEK’s project in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

    The problems mentioned by the head of Rosmorport still include excessive requirements on compensation of bioresource damage. Unfortunately, there is no solution on this issue throughout several years.

    As Vyacheslav Ruksha, Deputy General Director – Director of the NSR Directorate, Rosatom, explained at the Congress, the bulk of the cargo flow on the Northern Sea Route will be made by liquefied gas and oil shipped to be primarily from the terminals in the Gulf of Ob and in the Yenisei Bay. 

    As for the projects along the lanes of the Northern Sea Route, Federal State Unitary Hydrographic Department will perform dredging works as part of Sabetta port’s seaway canal reconstruction in the amount of about 20 million cbm in 2020, Yury Mikhov, General Director of Hydrographic Department, said at the Congress. According to him, the total scope of dredging under this project is about 60 million cbm.

    When speaking about dredging in the Arctic and in the Far East, it should be noted that those regions feature underdeveloped infrastructure and challenging navigation conditions while timely supply of the dredging fleet with fuel is a significant aspect. The more so as the fuel costs make an essential part of expenses under dredging projects.

    A unique experience of bunkering in the Far East was obtained by KTK-Bunker during the construction of Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex.

    “Operation of the bunkering fleet in the Far East is specific due to remoteness of plants and scarceness of transshipment terminals”, told Nikolay Zvorygin, Commercial Director, KTK-Bunker. He emphasized that almost all works can be only performed during the navigation period when the ships are deployed for Northern deliveries. Therefore, the ships should be reserved and the work should be planned in advance.

    Planning is particularly served by flexible pricing depending on the market situation. If contractors are foreign companies there is a currency control which slightly affects the final price. Besides, nonresident companies cannot count on excise compensation that would save over 20% of fuel cost per tonne. Season depending pricing is another specific feature strongly marked in the Far East basin.

    Nikolay Zvorygin also warns that new sulphur cap of IMO has lead to the increase of related expenses by 1.5 - 2 times that should be also taken into consideration while planning the works. Besides, low-sulphur fuel is in deficit.

    “Companies planning to work in the Arctic and in the Far East should preliminary study fuels they are going to use”, the expert said. Otherwise, they can use a product threatening with ship engines failure.

    Construction and localization

    Renovation of Russia’s dredging fleet is an acute issue. According to Gennady Yegorov, General Director of Marine Engineering Bureau, the age of most dredging ships in the country exceeds 31 years, a considerable part of them is over 40 years old. There are 244 dredging ships with average age of 32.4 y.o., 120 suction dredgers with average age of 34.3 y.o., 223 hopper barges with average age of 35.9 y.o., 158 anchor boats with average age of 40 y.o., 151 roadsters with average age of 40 y.o.

    Gennady Yegorov underlined that the dredging fleet should not be referred to as dredgers alone. The normally operate as part of a dredging convoy together with other ships.

    “Repair and maintenance of engineering ships is also a problem aggravating each year”, said Gennady Yegorov.

    The expert calls on application of a comprehensive approach to creation of a range of required dredging equipment and demonstrated practical solutions for both sea and river dredging.

    Meanwhile, Alexander Poshivay, Acting Head of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency said that the Agency would have a series of 20 dredgers built at Lotos shipyard (a company of United Shipbuilding Corporation). The first 4 dredgers of the series designed together with Royal IHS are to be built by 2022, with the second phase (16 units) to be completed by 2030. The construction will be financed under the leasing programme of STLC at an annual rate of 2.5% for 15 years. The lessees are Rosmorrechflot's Basin Administrations. The cost of one dredger is about RUB 1 billion. The competition for construction of the first two ships was announced by STLC in February 2020.

    As for innovative dredging equipment, Damen DOP technology was presented by Harrold van Vliet, Regional Service Management, Damen. The technology foresees fixing of DOP pump onto equipment that ensures wide opportunities for material excavation without construction or purchase of costly ships. DOP is also available for rental. As Gennady Yegorov, General Director of Marine Engineering Bureau, commented after the presentation, “any crane can be converted into a dredger with DOP with a single component changing the entire approach”. Of course, this technology is applicable for small-scale works.

    However, large-scale projects that foresee considerable scope of excavation cannot be implemented without dedicated ships. For such projects Damen offers a variety of solutions including those of its Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger Series.

    FSUE Rosmorport has three dredgers of Damen TSHD design: TSHD Yury Maslyukov, TSHD Severnaya Dvina and TSHD Beloye Morye. The recent one, TSHD Yury Maslyukov, was built in Russia, at Onezhskaya Shipyard.

    Maintenance of the existing dredging fleet is economically reasonable at the shipyards of BLRT Group located in the Baltic Sea region (Tallinn, Turku and Lithuania). As Dmitriy Kuzmin, Head of Pricing Department, BLRT Repair Yards, said at the Congress, the company applies 3D scanning and modelling for ship condition survey. Besides, the company offers designing, manufacture and installation of scrubbers and ballast water management systems which is particularly in demand amid the new environmental requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

    At the same time, Russia pursues the policy of import substitution and localization, particularly in the shipbuilding industry. The requirements on the level of local content of ship equipment are set forth by RF Government Decree No 719. Damen which has already completed a number of projects for Russian customers is ready to meet those requirements.

    “When implementing our projects for both Rosmorport and other Russian companies we are striving to comply with the requirements on local content of ship equipment foreseen by RF Government Decree No 719. Russia has a sufficient number of suppliers for localization”, Vadim Akimov, Sales Director, Damen Shipyards, said in his interview with PortNews-TV.

    Russia has developed its own unique solutions for the dredging industry. Alexander Troitsky, General Director of Nonius Engineering, told the Congress participants about promotion of the company’s two innovative projects: creation of nonisotopic density meter and underwater viewing system.

    In 2019, nonisotopic density meter was tested at Vinci facility in France, installed as an experiment on Andre L dredger (France) and underwent joint trials at China Construction and Communication Corporation (СССС). So, the equipment is prepared for commercial procurement.

    The underwater viewing system of Nonius Engineering is to come into the market in 2021.

    Dredging works also require reliable hoses. In this segment, Russia has its own products acknowledged worldwide. The Congress participants were familiarized with the product of Russian company Composit, the main task of which is to research, develop and produce wear-resistant rubber hoses. The company’s products are being successfully used in hydromechanical works and in the mining, extraction and processing industries. The presentation was made by Alexander Nevzorov, head of the company’s Sales Department. The company offers floating hoses for marine conditions with swivel and nipple flanges, floating hoses with universal or round plastic float, suction hoses, etc. Composit is a partner of many international companies with its dealers working in Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Chile and Peru.

    Development of hydrosystems

    The recent decade has seen a considerable improvement of safety at hydraulic engineering structures of Russia’s inland water ways, said Alexander Poshivay. At the same time, insufficient financing of IWW for many years resulted in accumulation of acute problems.

    The largest projects on inland water ways of Russia are the construction of the Bagayevsky and Nizhegorodsky hydrosystems.

    As for the Bagayevsky hydrosystem, Alexander Poshivay informed about obtaining of the state expert approval and a plan to announce a competition for construction works in March. “Undoubtedly, the project will be implemented”, said the acting head of Rosmorrechflot.

    The situation with the Nizhny Novgorod hydrosystem is more challenging. According to Alexander Poshivay, the project implementation has been restrained by the local authorities’ position and some problems hindering the obtaining of approval from Glavgosexpertiza (Russia's Main Department of State Expertise – Ed.). According to Alexander Poshivay, the new Government Cabinet of the Russian Federation has been informed about this problem adding that work is also underway on clarification of the project for the local residents.

    As Vitaly Belikov, Head of Laboratory, Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in his turn, the Nizhegorodsky hydrosystem is the only solution to low water level in the area. According to him, such alternatives as the bed dredging ad construction of the third thread of the Gorodetsky gateway will notensure sufficient depth, neither will they solve the problem of Balakhna flooding.

    Another significant project on inland water ways is the reconstruction of the Volga-Don Canal. When speaking at the Congress, Oleg Shakhmardanov, Head of Volga-Don Basin Administration, told about the progress of the reconstruction.


    Implementation of various hydraulic engineering works in Russia is be facilitated by a so called regulatory guillotine and improvement of the regulatory framework in this segment. Andrey Kozlov, Deputy Director, Department of State Policy for Maritime and River Transport of the Russian Ministry of Transport, said that the Ministry had drafted the Rules for Maintenance of Navigable Channels and HESs. According to him the work is also underway on drafting the RF Government Decree on using bottom soil excavated on inland water ways.

    Problem depth

    Generally speaking, the segment of hydraulic engineering is developing in Russia and the contractors will not be in dry dock. It is important for this work to facilitate the development of related sectors, primarily shipbuilding, machine building and instrument making.

    It is pleasant to note that both foreign partners and domestic companies are ready to continue working in Russia, promote their innovative technologies and come to international markets with them.

    Of high importance are the activities of ad hoc ministries and bodies responsible for the success of large-scale port and HES projects that have a considerable impact on the country’s economy.

    PortNews Media Group, in its turn, is ready to continue providing customers, contractors and representatives of state authorities with an opportunity to discuss newly arising issues at the annual congress and support the industry on the media scene.

    Vitaly Chernov