The recession in Russia as well as restrictions in trade
between Russia and the EU, USA and other countries, has had a
big impact on many Baltic ports as they handle a large portion of
the consumer goods bound for the Russian market. Despite
this, he believes that the dry bulk cargo segment will maintain
positive growth and that coal will continue to be the most
important dry bulk commodity.
“However, being aware of the potential impact on the
relationship between the EU and Russia, as well as on the
political decisions in Russia to boost dry bulk cargo volumes
handled in Russian ports, Riga port forecasts a slow, long-term
decline in coal volumes handled,” he says.
Riga sees mostly calls from Panamax bulk carriers. The
largest ever vessel to call there was the UBC ONSAN, which
could carry 112,000 tonnes of coal, having an overall length of
In addition to its role as a pure handler of raw materials, Riga
Freeport does provide some value-added services, such as bulk
packaging, rubber processing, cargo weighing, road and rail scales,
forage cereal packaging, grain and oilseed disinfection, as well as
coal sorting, crushing and magnetic separation.
In terms of landside movement, sea, road and rail are all used,
although 80% of dry bulk is transported to/from the port by rail,
the other 20% going by road.
In Sweden, the Port of Hargshamn saw its dry bulk traffic
drop to just 622,000 tonnes in 2015, compared to the 1.5mt
reported for 2014. Port managing director Curt Nilsson
explains that this was due to the biggest client, Dannemora
Mineral (DMAB) — an iron ore mining company operating some
40km distant — being declared bankrupt in March 2015. The
previous year, this customer had generated traffic of 1.2mt of
“Nevertheless, throughout 2015, we continued to invest in a
variety of small infrastructure projects,” he says.
At present, the focus is on trying to increase the handling and
storage capacity of grains, whilst also continuing to handle
project cargo along with building equipment and materials, for
which in port storage facilities exist.
As for commodities in long-term decline, Nilsson identifies
peat briquettes, pointing out that this is a controversial fuel, and
will almost certainly be phased out most within the next five years.
In terms of vessel size, Hargshamn normally handles
‘Baltic size’ cargo ships,
ranging in size from
1,000dwt up to 23,000dwt
(Wagenborg’s ‘R’ ships). In
addition, there is also some
small barge traffic.
“Some of the vessels that
call here are geared, but
loading and unloading usually
involves the use of portal
cranes or conveyor belts,”
says Nilsson. “The general
thinking in the sector is that
ships are getting ever larger.
Many clients want to benefit
from the effects of
economies of scale for their
handling of bulk goods,
which is seeing a move away
from coasters towards
As for adding value
to the basic commodity, Hargshamn
does pack peat
containers, and also
commodities in big
bags for some clients.
So-called ‘firewood’ is
also processed into
Finally, onward movement of goods takes place in a number of ways. Some inbound cargo is rotated out by other vessels, rail also transports some
consignments, while others move by road.
“This year, we are forecasting that more cargo will move by
rail to and from the port,” said Nilsson.
In neighbouring Denmark, the Port of Kalundborg reported
dry bulk traffic amounting to 1.2mt in 2015, compared with
980,000 tonnes for 2014. Spokesperson Liselotte Rørup
explains the 22% increase on the fact that the port has deep
water facilities and also because the price of grain has been
higher when shipped out on larger bulk carriers. Export wheat
has, in particular, grown noticeably in volume for exactly this
“At the moment, we aren’t making any significant new
investment in dry bulk infrastructure, although we are targeting
more fertilizer traffic,” she says, pointing out that this has so far
appeared to be in long term decline.
Kalundborg can currently accommodate up to Panamax-size
vessels, which are sufficient for the size of consignments
currently being shipped.
“In terms of adding value to the dry bulk commodities that
we handle, there is a privately owned packaging factory for salt
and pellets within the port area,” she reports.
As for landside movements of dry bulk, these are unchanging.
Most dry bulk goes by road, however there is also some vessel-
to-vessel transfer within the port, which sees some commodities
moved from larger bulk carriers to smaller vessels for onward
delivery of cargo.
Also in Denmark, the port of Rønne is one of the smallest in
terms of dry bulk operators in the Baltic Sea region. In 2015, for
example, it handled just 813 million tonnes, compared to 810
million tonnes the previous year.
According to Ulla Kiersgaard, Manager Maritime
Services/Business Development, although some traffic segments
within the port did vary from one year to the next, this was not
the case with dry bulk. As a result, no short term investment is
needed in developing additional dry bulk facilities.
“The traffic that we can attract is limited to the size of the
island where the port is located,” she notes, although stresses
that none of the commodities handled should be considered to
be in long term decline.
“The largest vessels we see here are about 10,000dwt; some
of them are geared, whilst others use the port’s handling
equipment. Although it is true that vessel sizes are increasing,
this, in our case, is limited by the draught.”
As for landside movements, these are undertaken uniquely by
trucks and tractors.