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All hands to the port!

The volume of dry cargo transshipment at Russian ports increased by 20.1% in 2023
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The 2022 global geopolitical agenda caused Russia to begin reshaping its export supply logistics. The loading of Russian ports in January-May increased by 4.1%, and the freight throughput - by 11.2% year-on-year. Carriers had to redirect shipment routes to eastern and southern destinations, giving up on transporting cargoes to European countries.

As a result of the unfolding events Russian trade saw a U-turn toward Asia. Back in early 2023, the Russian Transportation Minister Vitaly Savelyev said that the sea terminals of the Eastern polygon were loaded to 97% of their design capacity and the off-dock terminals - to 70%. 10 thousand containers were waiting in line to be unloaded, while vessels carrying another 19 thousand containers onboard were on final approach to ports.

The January-May period saw the volumes of Russian Railways’ shipments via its network to the Russian ports reach 144.9 million tons, a 4.1% growth on the same period in 2022. According to the holding company’s data, the largest share of export freight traffic was accounted for by coal - 54.5%, oil cargo - 22%, fertilizers - 6.3%, ferrous metals - 5.1%, grain - 3.9%, ore - 1.6%. 

The cargo turnover across sea ports in January-May increased by 11.2% up to 379 million tons year-on-year. According to the Ministry of Transport, ports of the Caspian (+31.4%) and Azov-Black Sea basins (+21.7%) reported the best growth dynamics.

The high cargo turnover growth rates at seaports this year came as a result of a record increase in dry cargo transshipment, particularly of grain, mineral and chemical fertilizers, demonstrating an increase of 20.1% up to 186.2 million tons. Bulk cargo transshipment also grew by 3.8% to 192.8 million tons. Container transportation also showed growth across all major nomenclatures: the results of the first five months of 2023 increased by 11.3% year-on-year.

The share of Russian cargoes exported to the European Union, previously Russia’s main market, fell by 27%, or 114.9 million tons, says Alexei Zamkovoy, Deputy Director General of Institute for Transport Economics and Development. However, the expert added, Russia’s trade with China, Turkey and India increased: the total growth of exports was 31% reaching 83.2 million tons.

The role of multimodal logistics is increasing today, says Konstantin Stepanov, Deputy Director General for Strategy and Business Development of the container operator RZhD Biznes Aktiv. The diversification of routes that gained traction last year is also progressing: manufacturers enter new markets while expanding their logistics chains beyond China, he believes.

“The geography of Russia’s exports has changed affecting the configurations of cargo flow routes with regard to all the modes of transport," confirms Alexei Zamkovoy.

Deputy Director General of Institute for Transport Economics and Development notes that, as things stand now, for cargoes to be transported on the existing capacities we will need to operate the BAM and Trans-Siberian railroads’ infrastructure, with due account for the step-by-step development of the Eastern polygon, to include the railway and port infrastructure of the Crimea in the logistics chains, and to use, particularly, the Northern Sea Route and the port of Murmansk.

The representative of RZhD Biznes Aktiv, in turn, considers among priority tasks the development of the infrastructure: the off-dock terminals in the Far East and the Azov-Black Sea basin. 

Alexander Solyanik

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