Russian container volumes reach 5 mln TEU in 2018

Russian container volumes
Vladivostok Sea Commercial Port. Source: VSCP

The Russian container ports handled 5.075 mln TEU in 2018, which marks a 9.8% increase over the 2017 year’s results, reports the Association of Russian sea commercial ports. However, the growth is less than last year: in 2017 the increase was 15.5%.

As we wrote earlier, the Russian container volumes are gradually recovering from the tremendous drop by 25% in 2015 down to 3.94 mln TEU from 5.28 mln TEU in 2014 and 5.35 mln TEU back in 2013. The huge decline was caused by a massive devaluation of ruble (from 33 to 61 RUR for 1 USD) at the end of 2014 and the economic sanctions, which hit primarily imports of foodstuffs, consumer goods and auto spare parts from the European Union, the United States, Canada and Japan.

The year 2018, although with strong results, has nevertheless demonstrated the slowdown of the recovery pace. Thus, imports have grown up to 2.13 mln TEU (+9.4%), whereas in 2017 the jump was by far higher: +16.8%. Export volumes have increased to 2.1 mln TEU (+9.3%), however last year the growth was +17.5%.

Russian container ports throughput

2017/2018 compared
th. TEU2017Change y-o-y 2017/20162018Change y-o-y 2018/2017

Loaded exports keep growing: +14.4%, up to 1.34 mln TEU (in 2017 they grew by 12.3%). This was caused by a stable growth in containerized export of such cargos as paper, metal and wood industry products, chemicals, mineral fertilizers.

However, the evacuation of empty boxes (empty exports)has decelerated: +1.5%, up to 761.69 th. TEU, whereas in 2017 the growth was tremendous: +26.7%. Obviously, this is explained by growing containerized exports and more balanced import/export ratio.

The remaining part of the total container handling consists of local cabotage volumes (749.53 th. TEU, +9.6%) and transit, which is scarce (90.86 th. TEU) but grew by 34.3%.

The growth was observed in all the major Russian port regions, but only the Baltic ports have managed to keep up the growth rate. In 2018 they handled 2.48 mln TEU (+10.8% to 2017) and in 2017 the growth was +10.6%, with the throughput of 2.23 mln TEU. The Baltic ports make up 48.8% of all container traffic in the Russian ports. Of these the Big Port of St. Petersburghandled 2.13 mln TEU (+11%) and confirmed its status of Russian container hub #1. Other ports on the Russian Baltic coast demonstrate much more modest results: Ust-Luga – 69.13 th. TEU (-8.1%), Kaliningrad – 276.43 th. TEU (+15.6%).

The Far Eastern portsincreased their volumes by 12.4% (1.67 mln TEU), but this growth is slower than in 2017, when the ports made a tremendous leap of 23.9%. The major ports here are Vladivostokwith its throughput of 944 th. TEU (+12.5%) and Vostochny– 419.2 th. TEU (+13.1%).

The Black Sea portshandled 0.769 mln TEU, which is just 2.3% more than in 2017. Last year the growth was 19.7%. The third largest Russian container port – Novorossiysk– increased its volume by 2.5%, up to 755 th. TEU.

The Arctic facilities improved their container volumes: 160.6 th. TEU (+6.7%), as compared to last year’s drop of -1.6%.

For year 2019 analysts forecast the growth of the Russian container port market at the level of 2018 or less, down to 4-5%, based on the slowdown of GDP, imports and consumer demand.

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