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2015 January 13

Past and future

The past year was rich in the events significant for the sector of marine/river transport and port infrastructure. We have decided to emphasize the most crucial, from our point of view, industry related events of 2014.

Business sharks

The main corporate event of the late 2013 – early 2014 was, perhaps, the purchase of National Container Company assets by Global Ports which lead to the creation of the most powerful container operator in the seaports of Russia. NCC President Alena Ashurkova was appointed as the Deputy Director General of Global Ports. However, in December 2014 she became Acting Director General of United Grain Company having changed her surname for Igumnova. By the way, co-owner of UGC is Summa Group which is also a shareholder of Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port (NCSP OJSC).

While on this subject, we should remind about Summa’s attempts to ‘divorce’ with Transneft, another NCSP shareholder. In early December 2014, Rosimushchestvo (Federal Property Management Agency) told about the two ways of NCSP development under discussion today. The first one suggests separation of business between Summa and Transneft, the other one – placing of government’s stake in NCSP under Transneft management. Meanwhile, Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev says there are other solutions having not specifying them. So, this intrigue has moved to 2015.

As for Transneft, the company is going to convert oil pipelines of the “Sever” (North) and “Yug” (South) systems for pumping of diesel fuel of Euro-5 standard. This will influence the structure of cargo handled in Primorsk, Vysotsk and Novorossiysk as we covered earlier >>>>

Stevedoring activities

As for the development of Russia’s port infrastructure in general, Transport Ministry says it gained 20 mln t in capacity over the past year. Throughput of seaports increased by some 5% to about 620 mln t.

Among the largest infrastructure projects under implementation in 2014 we distinguish the construction of the outer port Bronka in Saint-Petersburg, construction of port Sabetta on the Yamal peninsula (Yamal-LNG), launching of the project on comprehensive development of Murmansk Transportation Hub. 

Marine Multipurpose Complex Bronka is scheduled to commence operation as early as in 2015. The intense construction is underway.

Despite the attempts to scrap the project on creation of a dry cargo district at port Taman supposed to become the largest dry cargo port of Russia, the Ministry of Transport and the expert community managed to assert it. According to Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, this strategic task is included into both long-term strategy through 2030 (approved in 2014) and into the plans for the nearest future.

Port Sabetta is also being built ‘at an accelerated tempo’. In past November it was opened for services following the opening of a checkpoint on the State Border of the Russian Federation. All dredging operations at seaport Sabetta and marine canal of the Ob Bay scheduled for implementation during the navigation period of 2014 (21.5 mln cbm) were fully completed by October 7, 2014. In fact, it makes over 30% of the total volume of dredging required under the project. The 50-kilometer long sea canal now has a 105-meter wide channel with a seabed level of 15.1 meters (according to Baltic system). This will let deliver bulky cargoes in winter navigation 2014-2015 for the construction of the shore infrastructure.

New standards for the coming years

An important event in the sphere of inland water transport was the approval by RF Government of increased standards for annual IWW maintenance expenses. The document is available at the website of IAA PortNews >>>>

As Maxim Sokolov commented, “this will provide a powerful impetus for the recovery and further on for the development of inland water ways …”

Nevertheless, shallowing of waterways could not but influenced the shipping in 2014. Cargo transportation by inland water ways of Russia fell by over 8%. However, the scope of dredging works increased 1.5 times, year-on-year, to 3.5 mln cbm.

According to Anna Isayeva, Director on IWW shipping at Russian Chamber of Shipping, total length of waterways with the depth below 4 meters exceeds 1,700 km, some 25% of the entire length of the Unified Deep Water River System of European Russia. This hinders shipping considerably indeed.

Under the draft Strategy for the development of inland water transport in Russia through 2030, financing of large-scale infrastructure projects at Inland Water Ways of Russia is estimated at about RUB 570 bln.

Ports for people

Of course, an important achievement was the development of marine passenger and yacht infrastructure in Sochi associated with the Olympics-2014. The reconstruction of port Sochi resulted in a possibility to simultaneously accept two 300 meter long cruise ships and an automobile ferry.

The new federal property complex at port Sochi put into operation in 2014 includes numerous facilities. The scope of dredging works carried out by FSUE Rosmorport totaled 597,300 cbm and the depth of the port’s water area is 11.5 meters now. 

Besides, Black Sea coast of Russia now boasts two yacht marinas, Sochi Grand Marina and Imeretinsky. There are plans to create marinas in Gelendzhik, Feodosia and Yalta. Read more in our article published earlier >>>>

Passenger infrastructure is supposed to be developed in other basins as well. The construction of a passenger terminal has commenced at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky with the construction of a passenger terminal at Pionersky (Kaliningrad Region) being discussed today.

Ferry service in Kerch

In 2013, one could hardly think of a marine industry of Russia to face such a non-obvious task as to ensure communication with the Crimean peninsula amid its transport blockade from the Ukrainian side. In practice, Kerch ferry service proved to be the only way to carry the majority of passengers and cargoes with the United Transport Directorate in charge of its organization.

“It is, perhaps, an unprecedented example in our history to boost the capacity in such a short period ‘just-in-time’ and carry 3.5 times more passengers… As for vehicles, the figure exceeds that of the previous periods over 5 times, - Maxim Sokolov commented on the work of the ferry service. The number of passengers who used the service this year totals some 2.7 mln.”

The functions of a sole operator of the Kerch ferry service are supposed to be handed over to Crimea in 2015.

As for the prospects of the current year, it seems to be one of the hardest periods for the national economy in general and for the maritime sector in particular. Amid the crisis we are likely to see new mergers and acquisitions in the corporate sphere and revision of investment plans and projects for their optimization in the sphere of infrastructure development. 

Vitaly Chernov