The total handling capacity of the Russian sea ports has increased in 2016 by 32 mln tons, reaching 715-720 mln tons, according to the estimates of the Federal Agency Rosmorrechflot. The capacity growth was provided by the construction of new terminals as well as by the expansion of the operating ones. But the current changes in macroeconomic and geopolitical situation keep forming new trends in the development of the country’s port infrastructure.
The Arctic Gate offshore oil terminal was launched by Gazprom Neft in May, 2016, in the Yamal
Besides, another Arctic project to start its operations in 2017 is the coal terminal in the port of Dikson, in the Chaika Peninsula, Taymyr. The first 45,000 DWT dry bulk carrier with Taymyr coal produced by Arctic Mining Company is to be dispatched from the terminal in June, 2017. In the future, annual volumes can reach 20-30 mln tons of coal. Nowadays, Arctic Mining Company managed by VostokCoal Management Company conducts exploration works at the site where high quality anthracite has been found. The company is also developing the transport infrastructure (railway and sea port) for all-year shipments along the Arctic Passage.
Two more coal projects are to begin in 2017 in the Russian Far East. These include construction of a terminal of 15 mln tons/year in Vanino port by Far East Vanino Port Ltd and another one of 24 mln tons/year in Muchke Bay, also near Vanino, by Sakhatrans.
Looking at the above described projects, the following trends can be observed. Having recognized the potential of the Northern Sea Route in the modern economic conditions and discovered new fields of coal and gas, Russia reviewed its Arctic port infrastructure and realized its huge inconsistency with the current and future demand. The berths that have not been utilized since Soviet times, rusty cranes, shallow harbours and lack of professionals – all aspects require urgent investments and development. The recently resumed cargo transit along the Northern Sea Route marked the volume of about 7 mln tons in 2016. With the newly discovered deposits of mineral resources, this is assessed to reach 75 mln tons per year by 2025. With these figures in mind, Russia is focusing on the construction and development of dedicated deep-water northern ports.
A new impulse was given to the Far Eastern region in 2015 by declaring Vladivostok a free port. In June 2016, this regime was extended to include Vanino, Kamchatka, Chukotka and Sakhalin Island, which has triggered a few terminal projects, mostly designed to increase coal export facilities.
The container volumes fallen by 25,4% in 2015, have left Russian container terminals largely underutilized today. In 2016, the container throughput slightly recovered, having grown by 1.4%, up to 3.99 mln TEU. The 2017 volumes will obviously depend on the macroeconomic situation. With the stable ruble and real income of the population, certain stabilization in Russian container transport can be expected. At the same time, further growth of containerized exports can be forecasted. Still, the softened demand does not assume new large container projects, only modest development of the operating facilities.