THE RUSSIAN container boom will continue in the Baltic basin ports of St. Petersburg, Ust-Luga and Kaliningrad, as the five national competitors add more capacity there than in the southern Black Sea basin or in the Far East.
Denis Vorchik, author of a new Uralsib Bank report on the Russian container business, identifies the five competing groups as Global Ports Investments (GPI), National Container Company (NCC), Novorossiysk Commercial Seaport Company (which is tied to FESCO, which has been taken over this year by Summa, one of the control stakeholders in Novorossiysk), and United Cargo Logistics Holding (UCLH).
“In order to ensure turnover at cargo terminals, Russian stevedores tend to partner with international terminal operators by selling them minority stakes. Hence, Global Ports works with APM Terminals, DP World and Vopak, while National Container Company works with Eurokai”, Vorchik reports.
In May UCLH announced its own partnership deal with TIL and Mediterranean Shipping. According to Vorchik’s calculation, between now and 2020 7.8M teu of annual terminal capacity will be built on Russia’s western coastline, principally on the Baltic.
By contrast, only 1.7M extra teu of annual capacity will be added along the Pacific coastline to the east. To assure full utilisation of this capacity, the Russian majors have changed strategy since the 2008-2009 downturn. Before that, the Russian terminals were heavily dependent on deliveries from feeder shipping lines, much less from mainline operators. After suffering from the volatility in feeder line volumes, the Russian majors have now shifted to mainline operators like Maersk, Mediterranean, CMA CGM, and OCCL. According to Vorchik, Global Ports’ deal this week with APM “will ensure turnover at container terminals and boost Global Port’s positioning as the first choice for the world’s major shipping groups”.