Last year was not easy for ports of the Baltic States. In 2016, the region’s harbours have received and shipped 145.943 million tons of cargoes. It is by 2.8%, or by 4,196 million tons less than in 2015. Statisticians calculated that 43.2% of cargoes were handled in Latvian ports, 33.8% - in Lithuanian, and 23% - in Estonian ports.
Volume of transshipment of Russian foreign trade cargoes via foreign ports of Baltics has decreased by 20% during 2016 - to about 42.5 million tons. However, in some types of cargo, Russia continues to remain dependent on Baltic terminals.
In accordance with target indicators of strategy worked out in 2012 for the development of Russian port infrastructure until 2030, the share of Baltic and Ukrainian ports in the total volume of transshipment of Russian foreign trade cargo is to be reduced to 5% or less.
So said so done: the largest volume of cargo redirected to Russian ports from Baltic ports fell on oil-loading. The reduction was almost two-fold and amounted to about 10 million tons. This year, further decline is expected. In particular, according to forecasts of Transneft, the volume of pumping diesel fuel into Baltic ports will be reduced by 25% - down to 2.4 million tons. Latvian port Ventspils and Estonian port Maardu suffer most from withdrawal of Russian oil-loading.
The situation with transshipment of general and bulk cargoes is somewhat more complicated. If speaking about coal, its transshipment has decreased by 13% - down to 16.4 million tons. The main volume is reloaded via Riga, transshipment via Ventspils has dropped sharply, and Ventspils specialized Baltic Coal Terminal, which worked with Russian coal, stood almost unloaded in 2016.
And all this despite there are not enough coal capacities in the ports of Russian Baltics to take the whole volume of coal from foreign ports. However, there are plans to expand the terminal “Port Vysotsky” (in the future up to 12 million tons per year).
The third largest in terms of volume the type of Russian cargo going to Baltics is mineral fertilizer. In 2016 the volume of mineral fertilizers transshipment through the Baltic countries has increased by 7.8% - up to 7.4 million tons. This situation is associated with the lack of specialized capacities in Russian Baltic basin while business does not want to invest in creation of new terminals from scratch.
The estimated cost of constructing a specialized terminal for dry cargoes in Russia, for example, in the port of Ust-Luga, is at least 100 million euros, and with cargo transshipment volumes below 4 million tons per year the construction is unlikely to be profitable. Even earlier, the terminal for mineral fertilizers in Ust-Luga was planned to be built by EuroChem but so far things are still where they started.
Thus, Russian bulk cargo are unlikely to leave the Baltics following the oil-loading, and for mineral fertilizers Russia continues to be dependent on foreign ports (accounting for about a third of total transshipment).
Nevertheless, the main competitors of Baltic ports are four Russian harbours: Ust-Luga, Primorsk, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad.