When summarising forecasts of stevedoring companies and evaluating global trends and economic processes in the industry, an increase by 5–6% in cargo turnover is planned for the Port of Riga this year; and the total cargo turnover will reach 22.8 mln tonnes this year.
In 2022, an increase in grain product cargo is expected on the basis of the ambitious investments in the cargo handling infrastructure of the segment made by the port companies in the recent years, as well as the ability of the port companies to attract transit cargo of grain products from Lithuania and regions of Russia. However, it should be considered that the segment directly depends on the weather conditions; and, as proven by 2021, it can significantly affect both the volumes and quality of the grain crops.
“This year we plan a small yet stable increase in cargo turnover; that is important to continue successful long-term investments in the infrastructure, green technologies of the Port of Riga, as well as to attract private investments. According to the analysts of the Freeport of Riga, this forecast will greatly depend on various global processes: the ability of the world in general to recover from the crisis caused by COVID-19, and solutions for the crisis of energy resource prices, political stability in our neighbouring countries, and other circumstances,” says Ansis Zeltins, the CEO of the Freeport of Riga. He emphasises that along with the preservation of positive cargo volume trend, we currently continue working on industrialisation of the port, establishment plans of a new logistics park in the Port of Riga, and reconstruction of the existing land infrastructure.
Cargo of energy resources are also expected to give a positive contribution towards the cargo flow in 2022: during the last quarter of 2021, the Port of Riga renewed handling of coal and coke cargo; and it is expected that handling of this type of cargo might continue in 2022, too. Gradual restoration of logistics chains destroyed due to pandemic is also expected, and it might have a positive impact on increase on the flow of container cargo by approximately 9–10%.
At the same time, stevedoring companies of the port exercise caution in predicting the situation in the segment of forestry cargo. Currently, it is the largest type of cargo with a registered increase of volume at the port in 2021. Decrease by ~5% in volumes is expected for this cargo.
In December 2021, in total of 2.09 mln tonnes of cargo were handled at the port, which significantly, by 15.4%, exceeds the turnover in December 2020. The increase in coal cargo was also significant — reaching 0.5 mln tonnes, which is the highest monthly result since March 2020. The best result for bulk cargo of chemicals in 2021 was also registered in December 2021: wood pellets and ore had a high turnover, too.
In total of 21.5 mln tonnes of cargo were handled at the port in 2021, falling behind the result of 2020 by 2.2 mln tonnes or 9.8%. The main part of the decrease is due to cargo of energy resources, i. e., coal and oil product cargo where a significant decrease in cargo volume by 2.1 mln tonnes was registered. Considering the rapid increase of energy prices across the world, cargo circulation in this group was renewed last quarter; thus, it had a positive impact on the total performance of the port. Whereas, the total volume of other cargo, forming 18.2 mln tonnes, in 2021, remained at the level of 2020.
In 2021, the largest type of handled cargo was forestry, that made up 6.2 mln or 29% of the total volume of handled cargo. In comparison with 2020, the cargo volume has increased by 6.4%. Wood shaving pellets, sawn timber and timber general cargo was handled the most in this group, with relatively smaller turnover in wood chips.
In 2021, container cargo formed one fifth (20%) of all the cargo handled at the Port of Riga, or 4.23 mln tonnes of container cargo, or 415.6 thousand TEU units, which is by 8.7% less than in 2020. A drop in this segment can be explained by the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the global logistic chains, in general restricting the return to the previous volume.
Agricultural cargo that make up 14% of all cargo, are the third largest group of cargo in the cargo portfolio of the Port of Riga, and in 2021, in total of 2.92 mln tonnes were handled, including 2.79 mln tonnes of grain products, only slightly (by 2.4%) falling behind the result of 2020. This is due to the fluctuations of prices of these products in the last quarter of 2021. Grain cargo from the border regions of Lithuania were still successfully attracted in 2021.
In regard to the other cargo, in 2021, an increase by +34.6% for ore (0.82 mln tonnes); an increase by 40.0% (0.63 mln tonnes) for scrap metal; an increase by 12.2% (0.26 mln tonnes) for peat; an increase by 3.1% (0.34 mln tonnes) for general metal cargoes was recorded. Mineral fertilisers were handled slightly less (1.34 mln tonnes; a decrease by 6.6%). It should be noted that due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, the regular ferry traffic from Riga was not renewed; and thus neither passengers, nor ro-ro cargoes were handled.