Far East

Thanks to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which averages 11.3 days from Vladivostok to Finland after customs clearance, according to Finnish Railways’ August statistics, the hinterland of Russia’s Far Eastern ports is also all of Russia and many of the surrounding countries.

This coast’s importance was underlined by NCC’s decision last November to move in, going 50-50 with the Commercial Port of Vladivostok (Vladcomport) on a specialised container terminal, a deal NCC announced was worth some US$5m.

However, an international consortium of P&O Ports, CSX World Terminals and Vostochny Commercial Port (VCT) is already here, and is preparing to expand. Last year, Vostochny International Container Services (VICS) exceeded its contracted and projected throughput target of 200,000teu, reaching 204,650teu, and went on to handle 129,674teu in the first half of this year, says the company.

Specialised equipment has been a big part of this success. A new 32-tonnc Kalmar forklift truck was delivered in early 2004, as part of VICS’s programme to re-equip and to implement a new regime for working the railway connection - the all important Trans-Siberian. Another, similar, forklift will be delivered soon.

In future, VICS plans to purchase several straddle carriers and replace one of the four harbour cranes with one of minimum 40-tonne capacity. VICS is also planning to introduce wireless, remote access to the port database for dockers and foremen.

Capital investment in infrastructure and equipment maintenance totalled over Rb200m (more than US$6.85m) in 2003, and reached Rbl8m (US$617,227) in the first seven months of 2004.

For its part, Vladcomport stresses the Trans-Siberian mainline starts at Vladivostok, and container volume growth is about 15%.

“Given the increasing dynamic of container handling at Vladivostok, the port is continuing its terminal modernisation, increasing storage space and building additional berths,” says Vladcomport’s commercial department.

By 2006, with NCC, Vladcomport plans to increase throughput capacity from some 100,000teu currently to 200,000-250,000teu, with 400 metres of quays and 15 metres depth alongside (compared with today’s 320 metres and 11 metres). By 2010, capacity will reach 450,000-500,000teu, with a quay line up to 750 metres. By 2015, the plan calls for 800,000-900,000teu, with a quay line of up to 1.05km.

Planned equipment includes nine container cranes on the quay, 27 RTGs and about 50 tractor-trailers, and the port plans to pay particular attention to IT management of the terminal.

Vladivostok was originally projected as a cabotage terminus, but many cabotage routes have a limited navigation season, and international cargo reached 39.3% in 2003.

Nakhodka is hoping to double throughput this year, thanks to new shipping tonnage coming in, reorganisation of its container terminal and using the port's access to the Trans-Siberian. Nakhodka handled 13,576teu in 2003, but in August was already up 7% year-on-year, at 8,116teu.

Container operations have been moved from Berth 4 to Berths 2 and 3, increasing storage from 600teu to l,280teu; Fesco is increasing capacity on its Vietnam Direct Line; and a new Shanghai-Pusan-Nakhodka contract will bring in 1,000-l,600teu monthly, says the commercial department. The new Asian service will use the Trans-Siberian heavily, being 70% Russia-bound and 30% transit to Europe.


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