• 2022 October 14

    Bronka’s underloaded investments

    Over the recent months, Bronka, the only deep-water port in Saint-Petersburg, has been handling primarily Belarusian potash. The terminal’s capacity is just used to handle about 1 million tonnes of fertilizers while the port’s design capacity taking into account the programme for modernization of railway infrastructure can be as high as 23 million tonnes. As the market players told IAA PortNews, the port development is expected to be revised. 

    The volumes of Belorussian potash handled by Fenix LLC (owner and operator of Bronka port in Saint-Petersburg) will total 1 million tonnes by the end of 2023, a source in the industry told IAA PortNews. According to it, the terminal is primarily engaged in handling of Belorussian cargo in the current situation. Besides, ships of Northern Shipping Company and Algorithm Group make regular voyages between Bronka and Kaliningrad. As of the beginning of October, the following vessels service the line between the ports: M/V Kholmogory, M/V Kapitan Mironov and M/V SMP Severodvinsk operated by North-Western Shipping Company as well as dry cargo carrier Volgo-Balt 203, M/V STK-1004, M/V STK-1019 and M/V STK-1023 operated by Algorithm Group. 

    “Potash handling is estimated at about 1 million tonnes per year. The fertilizers are handled in big-bags,” said the source. The company provided no comments on the current throughput results or on the port’s development plans. 

    The market players told IAA PortNews that Belaruskali covered by the sanctions from the beginning of the year started its shipments to Russia via Petrolesport and Sea Fish Port terminal in Saint-Petersburg.  According to the sources, over 6 million tonnes of potash was transported via Russia-Belarus border as of Q3’2022 while annual capacity of Belaruskali production facilities is 12 million tonnes. 

    According to the statistics obtained by IAA PortNews, throughput of port Bronka in 2021 rose by over 7% to 3.7 million tonnes. In the 9-month period of 2022, the terminal reduced its throughput by almost 60% to 1.1 million tonnes versus 2.7 million tonnes in the same period of 2021. As an operator of Bronka port, Fenix LLC can handle containers, Ro-Ro and general cargo. 

    According to an earlier announced investment project, the development of railway and storage infrastructure will let increase the capacity of Bronka to 23 million tonnes by 2025.

    MSCC Bronka (Multipurpose Sea Cargo Complex Bronka) built through public private partnership was put into operation in 2015. Private investments of Fenix LLC including the raised loans totaled about RUB 25 billion, the resources invested by the federal budget (into the seaway canal and the highway interchanges) totaled RUB 16.2 billion. Fenix LLC has been a private investor and managing company throughout the time. The resources were particularly raised as a loan from Sberbank. Bronka is the only deep-water terminal in Great Port of Saint-Petersburg able to accommodate vessels of up to 347 meters in length, up to 50 meters in width and up to 13 meters in draft. As of today, MSCC Bronka is able to handle about 1.9 million TEUs and over 200,000 units of vehicles and special equipment per year.

    Before 2017, MSCC Bronka was owned by holding Forum held by Dmitry Mikhalchenko who was accused of corruption. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the funds obtained illegally were directed to the port development. In mid-2021, 100% of the Fenix LLC shares were turned into state revenue by the decision of the Nikulinsky District Court of Moscow on the claim of the Prosecutor General’s Office, and in the beginning of December they were transferred to the Federal Property Management Agency. In February 2022, RF Government published a decree on handling over 100% of the federally owned MSCC Bronka to State Corporation Rostec. The Federal Property Management Agency was assigned to carry out the change of ownership within a 12-month period.

    As of October 2022 года, MSCC is run by management company Interactive Internet Systems (IIS), According to the sources of IAA PortNews, the company is connected with the Belorussian shippers.

    In June, it was reported that Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko had inspected the construction of “a Belorussian port in Bronka”. The project on construction of port infrastructure for handling Belarusian cargo was approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin after Belarus encountered Lithuania’s decision to stop the transit of Belarusian potash by trains bound for the port of Klaipeda from February 1.

    In March 2022, Vladimir Putin assigned Leningrad Region Governor ensure assistance in construction of terminals for handling of Belarusian cargo. It was suggested to consider the territory of Primorsk port as a site to build new terminals, according to the regional Government. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko frequently told about the plans to have a sea terminal built in Russia. The terminal capacity was estimated estimated at 11-12 million tonnes. Minsk counts on launching shipments in 2023 with the construction to be fully completed in 2024. However, no information on real investment steps of the Belarusian side has been obtained yet.

    The sources of IAA PortNews say the plans for the development of MSCC Bronka can be revised. In 2022, the port will obviously reduce its cargo handling volumes almost three times verus 2021. Therefore, achievement of a strategic goal to boost annual throughput to 23 million tonnes is under a question as well as further development of the railway and storage infrastructure.

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Yana Wojciechowska