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Russia’s major Baltic oil port eyes mega-container role

Primorsk, Russia’s major Baltic oil port and the end-point of its Baltic Pipeline System, is on the verge of seeing construction start that will transform the port into a multi-purpose facility for up to 3m TEU annually, reports The Loadstar daily newsletter.

Dubbed Primorsk Universal Port Complex (PUPC), it will be built on a 760 hectare plot, some 1.5km southeast of the existing oil harbour. The new port will have several dedicated terminals, including a container-handling facility with an annual capacity of 2m TEU initially, rising to 3m TEU at a later stage

Due to its depth of 18 metres alongside, PUPC would be the Gulf of Finland’s deepest port and will be capable of accommodating Balticmax vessels, according to its director general Andrey Sizov.

“With its 860m-long pier and four berths, our container terminal would be Russia’s only facility able to handle 20,000 TEU container carriers operated by [the] largest ocean lines,” he said. “This would save freight carriers’ resources currently spent for feeder services.”

With no domestic competitors in this new niche, PUPC would, in his opinion, be able to focus all the large-scale export and import shipments at its container terminal, while leaving smaller lots to other harbour operators.

The port (and the terminal) would also have a well-developed overland transport infrastructure, featuring both rail approach lines (with an annual capacity of 34m tonnes) and a 42km-long four-lane motorway linking Primorsk with the Scandinavia International Highway. This would make it a regional multimodal transport cluster.

To consolidate and distribute containers, it is planned to build a dedicated warehouse logistics centre (WLC) occupying a total area of 100 hectares. The warehousing centre will provide facilities for outdoor, indoor and low-temperature storage, as well as various additional services, such as empty container repair, truck maintenance, oversized and ro-ro vehicle parking.

To attract new freight owners and flows, PUPC’s principal shareholders, Saint Petersburg businessmen Ilya Traber and Ramis Deberdeyev, have been lobbying for the creation of a special economic zone (SEZ) within the free areas reserved for the development of the Primorsk Port.

“The SEZ would offer its residents favourable tax and customs regimes, encouraging them to make goods with high added value,” PUPC’s director general stated.

It is planned to complete the building of the port facilities by December 2024 to reach the targeted handling volumes by 2030. Estimated at about $2.5 billion with a payback period of 12 years, the project would be financed from PUPC’s own and borrowed funds with partial public participation.

Mr Traber and Mr Deberdeyev have pushed the new port’s blueprint forward since at least 2018, but it is only now that it has finally received all the necessary government approvals. (Photo Port of Primorsk)