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2015 March 27

Novorossiysk amid new situation

Novorossiysk is already the busiest port in the Azov - Black Sea region while stevedoring companies are willing to invest considerable resources into the development of their own facilities to attract additional volumes of cargo. 

According to the participants of XI International Transport Forum “YugTrans-2015”, the success of private investment strategies will depend on the development of inland infrastructure, construction of railway and highway approaches under the federal special-purpose programme “Development of Russia’s Transport System through 2020”.

Upward trend

Throughput of port Novorossiysk climbed by 8% to 121.59 mln t in 2014 with the number of calls increased by 9.8% to 5,780 units. 

Despite the general stagnation of Russia economy and decrease of imports due to rouble devaluation, stevedoring company do not quit their plans on expansion of their transshipment and storage facilities. According to Sultan Batov, Director General of Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port (NCSP OJSC), implementation of the midterm investment projects of NCSP Group (through 2020) will let the seaport increase its throughput by 29 mln t per year. “General volume of private investments is expected to total RUB 30-35 bln. Additional RUB 14 bln is required for the reconstruction of federally-owned facilities: berths and approach canals”, NCSP Director General said. 

DeloPorts Group is also set to develop dedicated terminals in Novorossiysk. According to the Company’s investment strategy, modernization of two terminals - KSK (grain terminal) and NUTEP (container terminal) – with the construction of two new berths and reconstruction of the existing ones will let increase the capacity from current 9 mln t to 14 mln t by 2018. 

Container misbalance

In terms of container throughput, Novorossiysk is the second busiest port in Russia and an absolute leader in the Black Sea region. In 2014 it handled 720,000 TEUs including empty containers. 

According to Andrei Narayevsky, Development Director and BoD member of, the port’s exports in 2014 totaled 123,000 TEUs, imports – 352,000 TEUs. “When speaking about the export/import imbalance one should understand that almost all refrigerated containers coming from the Eastern Mediterranean return being empty. So, despite the abundance of empty containers in Novorossiysk, only small part of them can be used for loading,” he said. 

Expert estimation says that the fall in the imports of automobile components has been fully compensated by the growth in the exports of different cargoes. Andrei Narayevsky forecasts the increase of exports from port Novorossiysk by 10-15% in 2015 despite the limits imposed on certain types of cargo and insufficient railway infrastructure. He emphasizes that it will depend to a great extent on the ability of lines to accept cargo as the majority of exports from Russia and particularly from Novorossiysk is formed by 20-ft containers while imports – by 40-ft containers. This is the problem to be handled by operators.

Trend towards larger vessels  

On March 4, 2015, container terminal of NCSP handled the first 5,000-TEU container ship sailing on the new Maersk Line's direct ocean service AE3 from the Asia-Pacific Region to Novorossiysk.

According to Andrei Narayevsky, the new service is yet another signal for port Novorossiysk to develop berths able to accept large ocean-going vessels. “Almost all operators of international lines in Russia and worldwide note the trend towards the use of larger vessels,” the expert said. 10,000-TEU container carriers enter the Black Sea today but Russia’s largest port of the Azov - Black Sea region is not able to handled them. 

Investment strategies of the stevedores take this trend into consideration. The companies plan to increase their throughput with the extension of berths to handle Panamax and Post-Panamax ships. For example, container terminal Novoroslesexport (NLE OJSC) is going to boost its capacity from the current 320,000-350,000 to 500,000 TEUs through reconstructions up to 2020. 

Dredging operations, strengthening of sheet pile walls and extension of berths length up to 355 meters will let handle Panamax ships of 310 meters in length and 6,000 TEUs in capacity. Today, NLE accepts vessels with the length of 260-280 m. Grain terminal KSK is going to deepen the deepwater berth to 15.6 m so that it could service ocean going vessels of up to 60,000 in deadweight.

It should be noted that Novorossiysk sees an opposite trend to service sea-and-river going vessels with the draught of up to 5 m. For example, this year KSK is set to use the existing shallow water berth for loading of minor vessels. Thus, Novorossiysk can take over part of the traffic from the small ports of the Azov Sea. 

Deficit of port facilities

The investors’ ambitious plans can be hindered by the deficit of port infrastructure which is felt even today. According to Sultan Batov, seaport of Novorossiysk annually loses the possibility to handle up to 200,000 t of railway cargo.

“As the shippers’ supply is growing we see that the carriers cannot meet this growth primarily due to limited infrastructure. The port modernization should be closely connected with the development of public transport infrastructure”, Sergei Batov said.

Limited capacity is also a challenge for the grain terminal KSK which handles 70 rail cars per day and is ready for expansion up to 100 railcars. However, this will be achieved only in 2016 upon the arrangements with Russian Railways.

Expansion of NLE and, consequently, reduction of idle time spent by vessels off the harbour will depend to a great extent on the development of port Novorossiysk within the framework of the federal special-purpose programme “Development of Russia’s Transport System through 2020”, NLE representative said.

In particular, Sultan Batov named the following conditions necessary for the capacity expansion at railway station Novorossiysk: modernization of railcars handling technology applied at the railway station and at the approaches, expansion of the capacity at Tonnelnaya-Gaiduk section as well as the construction of Park B and additional tracks according to the plan on reconstruction of Novorossiysk station.

Sultan Batov emphasized that that implementation of those projects under the FSPP “Development of Russia’s Transport System” will let increase the capacity of the station to 50 mln t by 2020. 

“Successful implementation of the project under the FSPP and investment strategy of NCSP correlated with the plans of other stevedores in Novorossiysk will contribute to more compliance with the growing demands for export/import transportation across the Azov - Black Sea Basin in the mid-term period,” Sultan Batov said.

Of course, the potential of growth is quite high at the port of Novorossiysk. Implementation of the plans will depend not only on the federal financing of port infrastructure under FSPP but also on the possibility of private companies to adjust to new rules in the market of sea transportation amid the general stagnation of Russian economy.

Elena Tkacheva