Relevant topics

2018 October 3

Shifting port facilities beyond the center of Saint-Petersburg

Discussions about shifting of port facilities beyond the center of Saint-Petersburg have intensified again. It is the right moment taking into consideration excessive container handling facilities and lack of land for development purposes. Implementation of this idea could ensure additional income for the city – from both developing and shaping of an industrial port zone in Bronka and Lomonosov.

Outgoing call

The idea of shifting port facilities to the suburbs has been initiated in Saint-Petersburg long time ago. Ten years ago it was brought up by Igor Rusu, the then head of Rosmorport. The city authorities have returned to this matter one decade later. In May 2018, Saint-Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko announced the necessity to relocate port facilities to Bronka by 2025. In September 2018, Vice-Governor Igor Albin suggested considering the experience of Singapore.

Ten years ago, the idea of shifting port activities to the suburbs looked exotic amid growing turnover of high paying freight, containers and Ro-Ro. The situation has drastically changed with the time. The fall of cargo flow in those segments and introduction of new facilities like outer port Bronka with more advantageous geographical and logistic location has lead to considerable excess of such facilities. Even if we suppose that container throughput is as high as the records of the past years, we will still have the excessive capacity of 3 million TEUs per year or even 7.1 million TEUs per year taking into consideration development projects announced earlier >>>>

In view of this, it would be more reasonable for the city economy to redevelop the territory occupied by underloaded terminals of the first and second cargo areas. Moreover, cargo areas of the port occupy the most attractive part of the center with a sea view. Amid the high price and deficit of free land in the central part of the city the developers will undoubtedly line up to get the right for development of port areas. For the city that will mean a tax effect considerably exceeding current revenues from port activities in the area. The citizens will obtain an access to the coast of the Gulf of Finland.

Saint-Petersburg has historically been in a situation quite paradoxical and sad for citizens and tourists: the entire western part of the city faces the gulf but there are few normal approaches to it. Most of them are outside the city center (in Primorsky, Kurortny and Petrodvortsovy districts) if we do not take into consideration the reclaimed area of Marine Façade and some areas on the Vasilyevsky and Krestovsky islands.

From the point of view of stevedoring companies, current situation is quite good for looking into relocation of port and storage facilities. Container facilities are underloaded, investments into modernization of the obsolete infrastructure are not reasonable as no surge of container throughput is expected in current economic reality. Even if it happened, it would be hindered by transport infrastructure capacity.

Right approaches

No doubt, the city is interested in containerization of its cargo flows and in attraction of transit containers.

In this context, we consider it reasonable to think about development of an logistic and industrial port zone focused on handling of high-yield container/Ro-Ro cargo in Bronka-Lomonosov area. The more so as basic infrastructure is already available there. MSCC Bronka is a success.

The capacity of a highway approach to MSCC Bronka is 5,088 trucks per day or 1,857,120 trucks per year.  If each truck carries a 40-foot container, the annual throughput will be as high as 3.7 million TEUs. Taking into account irregular transport supply and routine breaks it is realistic to reduce this figure by 30% to 2.6 million TEUs per year.

New cargo area in Bronka-Lomonosov will certainly increase the load on the south-west part of the Ring Road between Bronka and M-10 (highway towards Moscow) as well as M-11 (toll highway towards Moscow, under construction). Therefore, it seems reasonable to build a high-speed toll road between Bronka and А-121 to take over part of the traffic. The more so as construction of Ring Road 2 has been long under discussion.

Besides, containerization of cargo flows, including loose cargo, implies strengthening of railway approaches to MSCC Bronka, construction of the Southern Yard for 1.5 million TEUs per year. A Bronka-Vladimiskaya railway line is needed for that purpose.

A railway route around Saint-Petersburg (Vladimirskaya-Mozino-Taitsy-Bronka line) will be highly needed in the future.

Implementation of those projects would let create a comprehensive logistic and industrial port zone in Bronka-Lomonosov area dealing with high paying freight and providing no load on the city center.

When speaking about dry bulk and other non-containerized cargo, there were plans to build a transshipment facility in Primorsk (Leningrad Region). That port is located far from Saint-Petersburg, so it does not influence the city environment.

It is quite natural  to think about compensation of stevedores’ expenses on relocation of their facilities. Different ways are possible. One of them is to guarantee their participation in development projects in the areas they leave.

Anyway, such a project can be implemented as part of a strategic programme of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.

Vitaly Chernov