Can Russia stop exporting fertilizers via the Baltic states?
- In view of the restrictions imposed by Lithuania on the transit of Russian cargo, representatives of Russian authorities consider withdrawal of all Russian cargo flows from the Baltic states. The statistics shows that in the first quarter of the year, generally pre-conflict period, total turnover of Russia’s foreign trade cargo via the ports of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia rose by 12.6%, year-on-year, to 5.7 million tonnes with mostly coal and mineral fertilizers accounting for the bulk of the volumes (1.86 million tonnes and 1.44 million tonnes accordingly).
As for Lithuania, it accounted for minor volumes of cargo: about 226 thousand tonnes of grain, ore and mineral fertilizers.
Interestingly, the first half has seen an increase of coal exports via the Latvian port of Ventspils as well as fertilizers via Finland.
While rejection of exports via Lithuania is quite easy, it is a problem when it comes to all the Baltic states: Russia lacks specialized facilities for dry bulk cargo. Moreover the Baltic Basin now welcomes Belarus with their 11 million tonnes of potash fertilizers per year.
If the Baltic transit stops in full, a question arises on where should 6 million tonnes of mineral fertilizers go taking into account the scope of Belarus’ cargo coming to Russian ports. Apart from fertilizers, there is coal, ore and grain. Although there are relevant projects in the Black Basin, their implementation wil take moths and even years. Of course, some volumes can be distributed involving containers and big-bags but it does not seem efficient with millions of tonnes.