The ports of St Petersburg and Ust-Luga have shown dramatic growth for direct imports over the last year with significant investment now being made to meet demand.
St Petersburg recorded that its fastest growing import was finished vehicles in 2011 and Third Stevedoring Company, which is part of Vladimir Lisin's UCL Holding and specialises in finished vehicle shipments, handled 47,166 units, which was 3.4 times more than in 2010.
At Ust-Luga, Russia's main development port on the Baltic Sea, the transhipment of cars is reported to have doubled, with throughput amounting to 65,000 cars. However, total volumes of finished vehicles at the port came to 133,837 units.
"In 2011 there was a steady trend in the reorientation in Ust-Luga of transit goods traffic from neighbouring countries," said Maxim Shirokov, the managing director of Ust-Luga Company. "Ocean vessels often arrive here today without going through the Baltic states or Finnish intermediaries. The share of these vessels will increase in 2012."
Deepsea vessels are now bringing finished vehicles directly to Russia from Korea and Japan, whereas before they went to ports in Northern Europe from where they were transhipped onto small feeder vessels and then delivered to Russian ports.
In the first two months of 2012, 27,184 units passed through the new car terminal at Ust-Luga, equivalent to growth of 64%.
At the end of last year Russian Transport Lines opened a new ro-ro terminal there. The Novaya Gavan terminal is located 14km to the north of the main port at Vistino but is incorporated in the Commercial Sea Port of Ust-Luga as a separate cargo area.
RTL said the new terminal offers the advantage of a reduced transit time of up to two days on the route between Europe's major ports and Ust-Luga, compared with navigating to the port of St Petersburg (read more here).
Last year, RTL handled 271,231 finished vehicles for the Russian market, an 18.5% increase in imports. In addition, transhipped units passing through either the company's sea or land terminals across Russia grew by 53.5% to 156,257 units, from manufacturers Nissan, Renault, GM, Peugeot, Citroen, Ford, Toyota, Mazda and so on.
Gulftainer, which is the largest privately-owned port operator and based in the United Arab Emirates, is also investing in terminal development at Ust-Luga, with an expected spend of more than $275m. The company is expected to continue developing automotive activities at the Yug02 terminal but with stronger emphasis on additional services including vehicle processing with PDI/PPO and other services (read more here).