Russian Arctic ports have best year ever

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - January 17, 2017
The port of Murmansk, on Russia's Kola Bay, saw a sharp increase in shipping in 2016. (Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer)
The port of Murmansk, on Russia’s Kola Bay, saw a sharp increase in shipping in 2016. (Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer)

Figures from the Russian Association of Sea Ports show that the main ports in the Russian north in 2016 had a more than 40 percent year-on-year increase from 2015. Growth was biggest in Murmansk where a total of 33.4 million tons of goods was handled, a 50 percent increase. Also Varandey, the oil terminal on the Pechora Sea coast, in 2016 had a significant growth. The port, which is owned and operated by Lukoil, handled 8 million tons of oil, which 21.6 percent higher than in 2015.

Dudinka, the Arctic river port on the Yenisey operated mainly by Norilsk Nickel, handled 1.2 million tons of goods in 2016, up 1.6 percent, data from the Sea Port Association show.

Meanwhile, the Arkhangelsk port continues in decline. The port located on the Northern Dvina river in 2016 handled 2.6 million tons, which is 31 percent less than the previous year. Arkhangelsk has among the highest port tariffs in the country. That has made regional Governor Igor Orlov call for the introduction of a unified level of port fees in all Arctic sea ports.

In November, Cyprus-registered company Osoblanko Holding Limited said it was set to buy 100 percent of the Arkhangelsk Commercial Sea Port.

Also the Murmansk Commercial Sea Port is changing its ownership structure, as Russia’s biggest coal exporter SUEK increases its stake in the port to 75 percent. The Commercial Sea Port constitutes a key part of the Murmansk port, it handled about 15 million tons of goods in 2016, a two percent year-on-year increase.

The growth in Murmansk comes after two years of significant decline in goods volumes.

In addition to the figures presented by the Sea Port Association are shipments made to Sabetta, the new port in the Yamal Peninsula. The port, which is developed by Novatek and its partners, in the first ten months 2016 handled more than 9 million tons of goods. About 505,000 tons of that volume was foreign goods subjected to customs declaration, the regional customs authorities informs.

The major industrial developments in Yamal is a key reason for the higher goods volumes handled by the regional ports. Shipments to the new Arctic bases developed by the Russian Ministry of Defense also contribute to the higher figures.