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ITE Transport and Logistics

Your helpful guide to Russia’s major seaports

With a population of over 150 million, international trade is a huge part of Russia's economy. Between January-August 2016, 468.6 million tons of cargo passed through Russian ports – an increase of 5.7% compared with 2015’s volumes.

In order to handle the sheer tonnage of trade turnover, Russia’s Baltic, Arctic, Pacific and Black Sea coasts are dotted with world-class ports.

ITE Transport has prepared a rundown on Russia’s biggest seaports. It is at these sites where the majority of Russia’s merchandise turnover takes place. Some are world famous, others less well known in the global psyche, but all are essential to Russia’s continuing status as a primary transport and logistics player.

The Port of St. Petersburg

This facility is not known as the Big Port of St. Petersburg for nothing. As Russia’s biggest North-Western port, capable of handling 5 million twenty-foot unit equivalents annually, St. Petersburg's trading hub certainly lives up to its name. 2015 saw 51.5 million tons of cargo pass through the facility. Only the port of Primorsk, which is a dedicated oil and gas terminal, turns over a higher volume of cargo (some 59.6 million tons in 2015) in the region.

It is also one of the Baltic Sea’s largest ports. Tucked into the Gulf of Finland’s Neva Bay, the port is an indispensable gateway to Scandinavia, Europe and beyond. It is well supported with logistical facilities, including dedicated rail terminals, close proximity to motorways and Pulkovo airport. 

Able to handle tanker and container transports, 200 berths are available at the Port of St. Petersburg. Total water area of the port itself comes to 629.9 thousand square metres and is 25 metres deep at its deepest anchorages.

More information on the Big Port of St. Petersburg (Russian language source)

The Port of Novorossiysk

If St. Petersburg’s enjoys the title of “Big”, then the Port of Novorossiysk’s nickname should surely be “Giant”. The port, located on the Black Sea, is Russia’s leading centre for exporting grain and its biggest port overall. To give a sense of the port’s scope, 85.5 million tons of freight passed through during January-August 2016. 

The Port of Novorossiysk boasts a total of 43 berths across its 959 thousand square metre site. Depths range from 4.5 metres to 24 metres. 180 thousand square metres of open air storage space has been matched with 62.2 thousand square metres of closed facilities and warehousing in order to keep cargo contained. 

Novorossiysk’s location allows access to the Black Sea and beyond. Transit routes link the port to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and even South America. Economically, this is one of Russia’s most important ports, as Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of grain. Without the Port of Novorossiysk, it is unlikely Russia would enjoy such a high agricultural profile. 

More information on the Port of Novorossiysk

The Port of Vladivostok

Vladivostok is one of the largest ports on Russia’s Pacific coast. Closed to international visitors until the break-up of the Soviet Union, the port has been open to international traffic for over two decades. In 2015, the Port of Vladivostok was awarded Free Port status for the next 70 years. Significant tax breaks and streamlined custom and inspection procedures are just some of the advantages Vladivostok now enjoys.

Freight turnover for the first three quarters of 2016 amounted to 9.3 million tons – an 11.3% rise over 2015’s cargo volumes. The port itself is within easy reach of China, Korea and Japan, making it an ideal hub for Asian trade endeavours.

The Port of Vladivostok is outfitted with modern warehousing, cargo handling and bunkering facilities. It is one of the Russian Far East’s best equipped ports. Included are 15 berths with a total length of 4.1 kilometres and a consolidated storage area of 353 thousand square kilometres.

More information on the Port of Vladivostok

The Port of Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad is the closest Russian port to Mainland Europe, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic coast. Trade turnover, however, did decline by 7.6% between January-August 2016, for a total of 7.6 million tons.  
19 berths, each with a gantry crane, are located across the port, the deepest of which measures 10.5 metres. Open storage comes to 238.2 square kilometres with 44.8 thousand square kilometres of dockside warehousing.

As it is situated in the Russian Special Economic Zone of Kaliningrad, the Port bisects the I and IX Trans-European Transpiration Corridors. Comparative short distances between the Port of Kaliningrad and other major European ports, such as Copenhagen, Tallinn and Helsinki makes it unique amongst Russia’s Western sea ports.

More information on the Port of Kaliningrad

The Port of Murmansk

Even the drastically icy waters of the Barents Sea cannot slow down Russian trade. The Port of Murmansk is an exemplar of Russian ingenuity and tenacity. Located beyond the Arctic Circle, Murmansk sea port remains ice-free year round giving Northern Russia a vital lifeline.

The port itself is also one of Russia’s largest, in terms of cargo turnover. 20 million tons passed through Murmansk over 2016’s first three quarters. 16 berths, the deepest of which holds maximum operative depth of 14.9 metres, serve the port. 

The fact that Murmansk is ice-free all year round gives it a significant advantage over Arkhangelsk and other ports which freeze each winter. Murmansk forms a crucial part of global maritime trade networks. The Arctic Bridge, for example, calls at the Port of Murmansk, linking Russia to North America and the Far East. 

More information on the Port of Murmansk (Russian language source)

Of course, the above is just a snapshot of Russia’s seaports, their layout and cargo turnover. The nation is skirted with ports on all of the territories located next to major bodies of water. Given the volume of exports and imports Russia undertakes annually, however, it is clear such points are vital to the nation’s ongoing development.

Image - Big Port of St. Petersburg


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