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Russian Ports Aiming for Cargo Increase


Russia plans to increase the total cargo throughput of its national seaports to 1 billion tons per year by 2030, according to the press-service of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last year, the cargo through Russian ports increased by 4 percent, compared to 2012, while for the first half of the current year the growth reached 6.4 percent and exceeded 412 million tons.

Russia expects a throughput of 600 million tons by the end of the current year, a third of which was contributed by the ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin (excluding the Crimea and Sevastopol), where the volume of transshipment for the eight months of the current year increased by 10.8 percent.

In terms of total cargo turnover, the Azov-Black Sea basin ranks second among Russian seaports after the Baltics seaports. It includes 17 ports, the largest of which is Novorossiysk, which accounted for 65 percent of the total volume of transshipment on the Azov-Black Sea basin.

According to Maxim Sokolov, Russia’s Minister of Transport, the cargo base of Russian seaports is calculated in accordance with the forecast of socio-economic development of key segments of Russian industrial production, calculated through 2030. These include fuel and energy, petrochemical, metallurgical, coal and other industries. He also added that increasing volumes at Russian ports is expected to be one of the priorities for the Russian government over the next several years.

As part of these plans, particular attention will be paid to the development of port infrastructure, which is especially important amid the ever growing popularity of heavy-tonnage vessels, which are designed for deep-water ports with a depth of 20-22 meters and which are currently uncommon for Russia.

Maxim Sokolov says, “Russia currently has a shortage of such deep-water ports and terminals. At present, only Vostochny in the Far East, Primorsk in the Baltic region, the Sheskharis oil terminal in Novorossiysk and Ust-Luga seaport are suitable. At the same time, in the case of the Baltics, the region is restricted by the depth of the Danish Strait. This reduces competitiveness of our Russian ports, compared with the ports of Southeast Asia and South America.”

At present Russian seaports remain uncompetitive even compared with Ukranian ports. For example, the depth of the ports of the Azov Sea do not exceed 10 meters, while in the case of Novorossiysk, the depth is approximately 13.5 meters. At the same time, the depth of the Ukranian Odessa, Ilyichevsk and Youzhny seaports is about 21 meters, allowing them to accommodate large “Panamax” and “cape-size” ships.

According to state calculations, the deficit of national dry cargo ports will reach about 140 million tons by 2030.

In this regard, according to Sokolov, the capacity of the seaports of the Azov-Black Sea basin should reach 170 million tons by 2030, which will solve a problem of peak loads during the summer.

The capacity of the Russian Black Sea ports will be significantly increased during the next several years through the building of new oil and cargo terminals.

There is speculation that such terminals will be built by OTEKO a local company and one of Russia’s largest industrial conglomerates, in the ports of Taman and Novorossiysk. The new terminals will focus on the transshipment of cargo from Kazakhstan and will have an annual capacity of about 40 million tons. Among the major cargo items of the new terminals will be oil, as well as iron ore, sulfur, and charcoal.

At the same time the Russian government is expected to pay particular attention to the establishment of a new Taman dry-cargo port, which is expected to be the largest port in the Azov-Black Sea basin and will have a depth of up to 20 meters. It will be designed for the service of vessels with a capacity of up to 180,000 tons.

The project also involves the construction of terminals for handling containers, as well as the processing of various bulk cargo, such as grain, iron ore, fertilizers and sulfur. The project will include the development of railway and engineering infrastructures. By 2025 the port’s turnover will reach about 94 million tons.

Total investments in the project will amount to 200 billion rubles (US$6 billion), of which RUB 76 billion will be provided from the federal budget.

So far, the Russian government has finalized preparations for the project and already completed the state ecological examination.

In addition to the state’s participation, an interest in the Taman project has been expressed by some Russian and foreign shipping companies and industrial enterprises, including Global Ports, UCL, Metalloinvest, KRU and SUEK.

Crimean Seaports

Russia is also planning the development of Crimean seaports. Implementation of the these plans will be personally controlled by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin says, “The existing and planned port terminals in the Crimea and the Krasnodar region should complement each other. It is important to maximize the benefits and strengths of each port, as well as to develop their logistics complexes.”

As part of these plans, the Russian government plans to significantly increase the capacities of the Crimean ports, among which are the ports in Kerch, Feodosiya, Sevastopol and Yalta, whose total turnover in 2013 amounted to only 11 million tons.

“In the case of Crimean seaports, it is necessary to complete modernization of their quays and to replace part of the equipment,” Maxim Sokolov says. “Implementation of these plans is already stipulated by a federal target program of socio-economic development of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol until 2020, which is valued at 6.2 billion rubles.”

The Minister has also added that the existing sanctions reduce the investment attractiveness of the Crimean seaports, which nevertheless have a huge potential for further development – especially those located near the Kerch Strait.

According to the Minister, extensive work will be done during the next several years to replace outdated port equipment, much of which was installed in the 1950s and 1960s.

According to Anatoly Tsurkin, Crimea’s Minister of Transport, the initial stage involves plans to build container terminals and grain elevators. Priority will be given to the modernization of the Kerch seaport, as well as the port of Feodosiya.

The project also involves the construction of additional berths that will allow the port to serve heavy-tonnage vessels.

The Russian government has announced plans to invest more than 31.5 billion rubles (USD1 billion) in the development of the Crimean port infrastructure during the next several years.

It is planned that the funds will be provided to the newly established state-owned enterprise ‘Crimean Ports’, which has already become an owner of the property of all the Crimea’s seaports.

As part of the plans for the development of the Crimean port infrastructure, a new bridge is planned to link Russia with Crimea. According to Sokolov, building of the bridge will speed implementation of other state plans for the development of Crimea, which involve the construction of several modern deep-water ports on the Peninsula. These will be important for the accommodation of large heavy-tonnage vessels. The Russian government also plans to create favorable conditions to attract foreign investors for the development of the Crimean port infrastructure.

At the same time, in addition to foreign investors, the Russian government plans to create incentives to attract global shipping companies to the national seaports. As part of these plans, the government has officially opened national ports to foreign vessels, which took place in accordance with a decree signed by Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Arkady Dvorkovich, Russia’s deputy Prime Minister said that the new regulation provides a clear legal status to several dozen Russian seaports and will eliminate the existing bureaucratic hurdles.

Despite the fact that Crimea’s ports are improving, the situation with local shipbuilding remains complex. According to some Russian media reports, the national government will be forced to withdraw from earlier announced plans to build large commercial ships at Crimean shipyards because of sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, according to Alexey Rakhmanov, president of the United Shipbuiding Corporation (USC).

According to Rakhmanov, the sanctions are deterring most companies from placing orders for ships at Crimean shipbuilding facilities, believing that contracting with the yards may result in the imposition of bans of those ships in the territorial waters of Western countries.

Eugene Gerden is a free-lance writer based in Moscow, Russia who has covered the European maritime industry for 10 years. He can be reached at


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