№5 (2020)   |   REVIEW

A matter of dredging and hydraulic engineering

The scope of dredging and hydraulic engineering works in Russia is expected to grow this year. A series of 20 units is to be built for operations on inland water ways. Damen shares its innovative technologies with the industry. Those and other topics were in the spotlight of the 3rd International Congress “Hydraulic Engineering Structures and Dredging”.

Who is digging deep

Today, dredging in Russia is the responsibility of FSUE Rosmorport (seaports and access canals), basin departments of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (inland water ways) and Federal State Unitary Hydrographic Department (seaports and approaches to them along the Northern Sea Route). Heads of those bodies spoke at the Congress and answered the participants’ questions.

According to Alexander Poshivay, Acting Head of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot), the Agency implements the federal projects focused on the development of Russia’s seaports, inland water ways and partially the Northern Sea Route.

“Implementation of some projects will let us redirect Russian cargo flows from the orts of foreign states, ensure access to transport infrastructure for small-size and mid-size coal mining companies … as well as build up export potential of Russian manufacturers with the development of competitive port infrastructure”, said Alexander Poshivay.

When speaking at the Congress, Andrey Lavrishchev, General Director of FSUE Rosmorport, said that the scope of dredging planned by FSUE Rosmorport for 2020 is to total 18.4 million cbm. According to him, 8.6 million cbm of material is to be dredged under maintenance projects with 9.83 million cbm to be dredged under new projects. The scope of dredging to be performed by Rosmorport’s own facilities is estimated at 7 million cbm, which is similar to the volumes of the previous year.

In 2019, Rosmorport's dredging totaled 10.3 million cbm including 8.6 million cbm of maintenance dredging.

Among the prime projects on the development of port infrastructure requiring large-scale dredging Rosmorport head mentioned the construction of a multipurpose terminal in Ust-Luga (Novotrans-Aktiv LLC, scope of dredging - 12 million cbm), Taman terminal for dry bulk cargo (OTEKO-Portservis, scope of dredging – 30.5 million cbm), coal terminal in Sukhodol bay of Vladivostok port (scope of dredging – 7.1 million cbm). By April 2021, Rosmorport is also set to complete dredging under NOVATEK’s project in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

The problems mentioned by the head of Rosmorport still include excessive requirements on compensation of bioresource damage. Unfortunately, there is no solution on this issue throughout several years.

As Vyacheslav Ruksha, Deputy General Director – Director of the NSR Directorate, Rosatom, explained at the Congress, the bulk of the cargo flow on the Northern Sea Route will be made by liquefied gas and oil shipped to be primarily from the terminals in the Gulf of Ob and in the Yenisei Bay. 

As for the projects along the lanes of the Northern Sea Route, Federal State Unitary Hydrographic Department will perform dredging works as part of Sabetta port’s seaway canal reconstruction in the amount of about 20 million cbm in 2020, Yury Mikhov, General Director of Hydrographic Department, said at the Congress. According to him, the total scope of dredging under this project is about 60 million cbm.

When speaking about dredging in the Arctic and in the Far East, it should be noted that those regions feature underdeveloped infrastructure and challenging navigation conditions while timely supply of the dredging fleet with fuel is a significant aspect. The more so as the fuel costs make an essential part of expenses under dredging projects.

A unique experience of bunkering in the Far East was obtained by KTK-Bunker during the construction of Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex.

“Operation of the bunkering fleet in the Far East is specific due to remoteness of plants and scarceness of transshipment terminals”, told Nikolay Zvorygin, Commercial Director, KTK-Bunker. He emphasized that almost all works can be only performed during the navigation period when the ships are deployed for Northern deliveries. Therefore, the ships should be reserved and the work should be planned in advance.

Planning is particularly served by flexible pricing depending on the market situation. If contractors are foreign companies there is a currency control which slightly affects the final price. Besides, nonresident companies cannot count on excise compensation that would save over 20% of fuel cost per tonne. Season depending pricing is another specific feature strongly marked in the Far East basin.

Construction and localization

Renovation of Russia’s dredging fleet is an acute issue. According to Gennady Yegorov, General Director of Marine Engineering Bureau, the age of most dredging ships in the country exceeds 31 years, a considerable part of them is over 40 years old. There are 244 dredging ships with average age of 32.4 y.o., 120 suction dredgers with average age of 34.3 y.o., 223 hopper barges with average age of 35.9 y.o., 158 anchor boats with average age of 40 y.o., 151 roadsters with average age of 40 y.o.

Gennady Yegorov underlined that the dredging fleet should not be referred to as dredgers alone. The normally operate as part of a dredging convoy together with other ships.

“Repair and maintenance of engineering ships is also a problem aggravating each year”, said Gennady Yegorov.

The expert calls on application of a comprehensive approach to creation of a range of required dredging equipment and demonstrated practical solutions for both sea and river dredging.

Meanwhile, Alexander Poshivay, Acting Head of Federal Marine and River Transport Agency said that the Agency would have a series of 20 dredgers built at Lotos shipyard (a company of United Shipbuilding Corporation). The first 4 dredgers of the series designed together with Royal IHS are to be built by 2022, with the second phase (16 units) to be completed by 2030. The construction will be financed under the leasing programme of STLC at an annual rate of 2.5% for 15 years. The lessees are Rosmorrechflot's Basin Administrations. The cost of one dredger is about RUB 1 billion. The competition for construction of the first two ships was announced by STLC in February 2020.

Vitaly Chernov