Northern Sea Route to reduce cost of fish shipping from Russian Far East
Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries (FAF), the State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM and the nation’s fishing companies are looking into possible establishment of a regular line to ship fish products from the Russian Far East to the country’s European part along the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic, according to Portnews.
According to provisional figures, such logistics can be nearly 30% cheaper as compared to transportation by railway. More specifically, in 2018 high season railway delivery of fish products from Vladivostok to Moscow cost RUR15.5 per kilo, while seafood shipping via the North Sea Route was as cheap as RUR11.00 per kilo only.
The year 2018 has already shown positive experience of fish shipments from the Russian Far East via the North Sea Route. Dobroflot Company used the route to deliver its Pacific salmon and a large batch of fish products was shipped by Norebo Holding.
Head of Atomflot (part of the Rosatom group, maintains the world's only fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers) Vyacheslav Ruksha thinks it possible to deploy Sevmorput, a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaking LASH carrier and container ship for the purpose. With more than 1300 containers onboard the ship can pass through 1.5-meter ice all by herself. During the coming season of 2019 several trips can be organized with the ship running according to schedule with departure from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Vladivostok and North Kuriles and arrival to Murmansk or Arkhangelsk.
The main challenges are the ship’s loading with commercial cargoes during the return trip, ability of port infrastructure to handle reefers and regular pattern of trips. As a matter of fact, in 2018 Russia enjoyed a record high harvest of Pacific salmons, exceeding 670,000 metric tons, with the main volumes contributed by Kamchatka. However, in the years to come the salmon harvest will hardly continue soaring at the same heights.
Murmansk Marine Fish Port
Administration of Murmansk Marine Fish Port highly appreciates prospects for fish shipments via the Northern Sea Route. At the same time the port’s authorities doubt that such shipments will go on a regular basis so that they could pay back investments into refurbishment of the respective container yard.
In 2015 Murmansk Marine Fish Port handled 3,000 metric tons of salmon brought by Dobroflot from the Russian Far East by Northern Sea Route. In May 2017 representatives from the stevedoring company approached Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries with a proposal to discuss loading of carrier ships on their return trips, but since then things did not move forward.
Today the port has got the capacities to unload fish from transport reefers and hold up to 37,000 tonnes of frozen fish in coldstorage at any one time. The port’s own railway cars can bring fish cargoes from Murmansk to any destination in European Russia. However, in order to handle fish in reefer containers, the port has to arrange a special place and outfit it with appropriate plant. The port’s authorities say they are ready to invest into the project, but they need to see it economically feasible (cargo volumes, period of delivery, etc.).
In mid-November 2018 Murmansk Marine Fish Port received an enquiry from the Barents and White Seas department of FAF asking if the port could take to its quays the vessels with a low draft (the question concerning the above mentioned project). The quays in question are run by the government-owned National Fish Resources Company, while their infrastructure belongs to the port. And the port’s officials think such split can negatively tell on the project.
Note. Potentially, the Northern Sea Route may also greatly reduce shipping time for international cargoes from the Asia-Pacific Region to Europe and vice versa.