Overview of Russian Ports

Cargo traffic through Russian ports has almost doubled over the past decade (only Corona, a temporary factor, prevented a full doubling), after increasing by a factor of three during the previous decade.

Here is how it looks like per port/region (h/t genby):

The blue section corresponds to Arctic traffic and it had a full doubling.

As I wrote in a previous post, current plans call for an expansion of NSR traffic from 31.5M tons in 2020 to 80M tons by 2025 and 120M by 2030, so that should be another doubling at least.

Port of Murmansk.

The purple section (bottom) corresponds to the Pacific and also saw a doubling. This probably reflects the slow but inexorable reorientation of trade routes towards China and the Far East and away from Europe.

The pink section corresponds to Black Sea traffic and it increased by a more modest 50%, while the green section that corresponds to the Baltic Sea increased by 36%.

It should be set against cargo traffic numbers for the Baltic states, which have stagnated outright over the past decade as Russia has expanded its own capacities.

The Baltics in general have only been holding steady thanks to Klaipeda, which is the main port used for Belorussian sea exports (this largesse is imminently coming to an end). Those ports that were orientated towards Russian exports, especially Ventspils, have seen the most market collapses.

Russia is not obligated to patronize the ports of Russophobe polities, and the Putin government has been successful at provisioning alternatives for Russian exporters, with the result that Russian exports through both Ukraine and the Baltics have been falling.

For completion, here are the numbers for Ukraine:

The numbers for 2020 were 159M tons, so that jump in 2019 wasn’t a one off. Still, it comes from a lower base. The one port of Novorossiysk accounts for almost as much as all of Ukraine combined. Odessa used to be the premier port of the USSR.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.

 

Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.

 

Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.

Comments

  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

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  2. I don’t suppose you’ve got similar figures for the Russian river port system?

  3. Passer by says

    Russian ports in the Еast are actually underutilised and face huge Asian demand, hence the urgent expansion of BAM Mainline

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCfMOmfljww.

  4. Supply chains are notoriously sticky and to shift them can take decades. If Belarus shifts it will take years, but the drop in volume due to EU sanctions will happen quickly.

    The large eastern region from Ukraine to Baltic is slowly turning into a depopulating backwater with less economic activity and transit. The West repeatedly failed to colonize it (Germans, Swedes, etc…) and is now getting even by turning it into a provincial battlefield where no sustained economy can be built. Maybe they are thinking long-term, or maybe the idea that at some point EU will redirect African and other migrants there is not that far-fetched.

    The locals enthusiastically cooperate so it is hard to feel sorry for them. The vacuum will be eventually filled by something. The only way the current local strategies would make sense is if Russia collapses, that is unlikely. Any isolation hurts the smaller resource-poor economies more than it hurts Russia.

  5. If you are thinking that global warming will make Yakutia or Chukota into the next agricultural Ohio or Indiana it will not be for the next few centuries.

  6. Caspar von Everec says

    What will exactly be the geopolitical implications of NS2 in your opinion? It doesn’t increase Russian gas exports to the EU substantially, it simply cuts out Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics from transit fees.

    Why is Germany so invested in it? Do they want Russia to have greater rein in eastern Europe? NS2 doesn’t seem to greatly help Germany if the volume of gas imports from Russia stay the same.

    The feeling I get is that if NS2 is completed, Russia is greatly emboledend to take action against Ukraine. Now there’s a fear that in the case of a Ukraine war the Russian economy would suffer as Ukraine would cutt off gas exports to Europe.

    With NS2 completed, they would be able to wage war against Ukraine without that worry in the back of their minds. Seems like NS2 benefits Russia mostly, don’t see why Germany is so enthusiastic about it.

    Perhaps a faction of German and French elites want US influence in Europe minimized and seeks to use Russia as a means to that end? With the exception of America’s pet dog Britain and the butthurt belt of czechs, Poles and balts, no in Europe really wants conflict with Russia for they would be first in the firing line.

    or is the game that German clear energy is way too expensive and denuclearization has gutted its industry. Perhaps the Germans want to replace nuclear and coal with gas which is more environmentally friendly?

    The hulubulu surrounding NS2 is mystifying.

  7. Caspar von Everec says

    Putin seems to be building a great legacy, but the question is, who will it hand it over to? I am hoping that Putin hands it over to a hardline president now that Russia’s position is far less precarious.

    When Putin took office Russia was a destitute country on the brink of collapse with no allies at all. Now its a great power and China I guess has its back to a small extent. Plus the west much more disunited and the US has greatly atrophied in the last two decades.

    I think Russia can now afford a more hardline nationalist at the helm. I just hope Putin doesn’t hand it over to some atlanticist shill like Medvedev.

    Honestly Putin’s amendment to rule until 2030 is kind of ominous. It could be one of two things:

    1. Putin doesn’t have a successor or feels that the moment he leaves power some liberal shill take the helm, so he wants to stay in power as long as possible to prevent that.
    2. Putin feels that the 2020s are going to be a very turbulent period in world history(most likely it will be) and wants to steer Russia through it personally. A new King is always vulnerable after all.

    No one seems to have any answer as to who the new Tsar will be but imo the best would be Konstantin Malofeev or Igor Girkin. They’re actual Russian patriots who aren’t up on one feet like Medvedev to auction off the country to walls street.

  8. NS2 cuts $3B from the Ukrainian budget annually. These are not peanuts for a country with a GDP of $150B.

  9. Philip Owen says

    And even so, the Black Sea and Caspian ports lack capacity to deal with the export demand for grain. No just port capacity but storage and rail access too. Not to mention the silting problems at Astrakhan. In the Caspian, there is a problem at the receiving nd as well. Lagan is being expanded as is every Iranian port. Another restraint on exports is that the United Grain Company owns most of the elevators, including at the loading railheads. Export by private companies is throttled back by this monopoly.

    The Covid dip may be extended due to Russia’s export tax on grain and soy.

  10. Philip Owen says

    There is enough demand in Europe to fill all pipelines from Russia. Germany is still burning lignite for electricity.

  11. Philip Owen says

    Gelezdnik, which is more or less Magnit’s private port is not listed. I assume it is rolled into NovoRossiya. It would have liftd higher after 2014 due to imports of fruit and veg from non traditional sources such as Turkey, Israel, India, Egypt and rest of North Africa.

  12. Germany is so enthusiastic about NS2 simply because do not want de depend on unstable transit countries and want to avoid indirect US coercion via these countries (Poland and Ukraine) if it want to “go east” (I.e. increase the commerce with the far East, namely China). In addition Germany is no so monolithic behind NS2. The pipeline is enthusiastically supported by the Bavarian industrials. North West “Atlanticists” are far less happy about the NS2.
    Also Putin promised Merkel not to shut down selling gas via pipelines. He told her that “selling gas to East Europe via Ukraine makes commercial sense”. Putin tend to fulfill his promises.

  13. Passer by says

    Why is Germany so invested in it?

    1. Germany becomes a has hub and exports russian gas to other countries.
    2. Western Europe needs more gas due to declining production – Groningen field in the Netherlands, Europe’s largest, is to close next year. Norway fields are gradually depleting. This year, Europe was very dependent on russian gas due to the cold winter.

    3. Germany will need lots of gas due to closing down nuclear and coal. Recently the date for carbon neutrality was set from 2050 to 2045. Very aggressive target.

    4. This winter Germany had problems with green power generation, was forced to rely on dirty energy that is to be closed.

    5. Becomes independent from gas transit disruptions in Eastern Europe.

    6. Geopolitical – Germany does not want for Russia to fully reorient towards Asia, as per FM Maas words.

    7. Geopolitical – Germany does not want to be fully dependent on the US and its satellites.

    8. Pipeline can be used for future hydrogen imports.

    9. Otherwise Germany will also have to invest in Ukraine’s old GTS.

    The hulubulu surrounding NS2 is mystifying.

    Its not. This whole saga, from US view, gives bad example. Is the US in charge or not? If the US is not in charge, this gives bad message to others, who may rebel against the US too. The US threatens, sanctions, and Germany tells them to F off. Very bad example. How can NATO allies turn against other NATO allies and make deals with Russia? If european countries can do whatever they want, then what’s next? And if they can do whatever they want, then the US is not a superpower anymore, being unable to force even its allies from siding with competitors.

    So in some ways, this is about whether the US is a superpower of not, whether it is dominant in Europe or not. Whether other countries can disregard the US or not. (see Turkey and S-400. What kind of signal this will give to Turkey?). These are important questions.

  14. Also the population of Arctic ports like Tiksi is still shrinking, so maybe all of these extra cargo volumes are not providing so much employment per additional container handled?

  15. US gas?

  16. Passer by says

    That is involved too, there are negotiations where the US is trying to force Germany to buy US LNG, as well as to support Ukraine with investment in return for greenlighting the NS 2 pipeline.

  17. Passer by says

    Arctic regions have the highest salaries in Russia, but this is simply not enough to make people to want to live there, in such conditions. There is currently migration to the southern parts of Russia, even though wages there are lower.

    Russians really love southern climates, beaches, and seas. You will score good with russian women too, if you are from such an area.

  18. Well in Soviet times, their population was on the increase until 1990.

  19. Passer by says

    Well in Soviet times, their population was on the increase until 1990.

    In Soviet times there was positive birth rate, and second there were demographic restrictions (laws) to prevent people from easily migrating into other areas, especially towards big cities. Population movement was heavily controlled and engineered, you can see it how it works today in China.

  20. Good summary. Becoming a distribution hub is probably the biggest motivator – in effect the cheapest gas will be in Germany, everyone else will pay markups.

    If NS2 goes live it will be a defeat for Poland-Ukraine-US – mainly because they stupidly made a big deal about it. For transit countries like Ukraine it means a ceiling on how much they can charge. Plus Kiev will have to pay its debts no longer being able to blackmail.

    In 5 years this could get ugly.

  21. Badger Down says

    Nein danke.

  22. showmethereal says

    I still don’t get why Germany is getting rid of nuclear power…. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

  23. Well, I think here that it is not Russia’s fault, but Poland’s only. It is this country that feel so proud of being “Western”, while at the same time seeing how the West is desintegrating fast with uncontrolled immigration, wokism, cancel culture, LGBTQ and globalism. Poland even invited the US to have a new military base in their country, and pay all the expenses! What can Russia do in such a case? Absolutely nothing.

  24. Felix Keverich says

    Russian gas is vital to German industry and Germany’s ability to remain a center of global manufacturing. Piped gas cannot be replaced by LNG, which is generally more expensive, dominated by short-term contracts, and with prices fluctuating wildly. It is therefore imperative for Germany to secure a large, reliable supply of Russian gas, that is not subject to whims of Eastern European limitrophe states and their self-destructive conflicts with Russia.

    Every supply disruption in the past was caused by Ukrainians attempting to use their control of the pipe to extort concessions from Russia. The simple truth is that Ukrainians are not evolved enough, not civilised enough to be in the gas transit business. This is why Germany backs NS2. Bigger issues than “European solidarity” are at stake.

  25. sudden death says

    The Baltics in general have only been holding steady thanks to Klaipeda, which is the main port used for Belorussian sea exports (this largesse is imminently coming to an end).

    All “Belorussian sea exports” essentially equals one thing – potash fertilizers, just in relatively large quantities, roughly fluctuating about 10-12 million tonnes a year – 25% of all load in Klaipeda. Lukashenko is using this route not because of some lovely feelings, that is just shortest, thus quickest&cheapest way for him to export this production. There is just one port company (154 workers overall), partially owned by “Belaruskalij”, which is doing that job of loading fertilizers on the ships.

    IIRC, there were some talks about possibility of building/expanding existing fertilizer exporting terminals in Ust Luga, but it would take at least year or two to finish such projects completely, so the “imminence” may be quite overstated.

    The recently floated idea to sanction fertilizer exports from Belarus at EU level was explicitly shot down by Lithuania lately as it required for all the member states to vote in favour.

  26. Felix Keverich says

    You sure they are not moving petroleum products this way?

  27. Mr. Owen as I can see you are in troll mood today.

    Going against the common wisdom of not feeding one I can not help but to ask: what are you talking about? Russia collapsed in 2014, hence it does not export or import anything via its non-existing seaports. What some believe they are seeing is just a hologram, a projections.

    Yeah, I know, they just don’t have the capacity, it is physically impossible blah, blah, blah …

    Of course it is maddening to see how many opportunities were wasted and how little has been done, how slow things are done etc. vs what could have been done. It beggars belief that certain crucial exports are still routed through obviously hostile countries and their ports and so forth.

    There are a lot of reasons for this ranging from entrenched business interests to inertia, but physical impossibility of changing it is not among them.

    In a couple of years Russian exports and imports via their ports will increase again – the apparent impossibility of this happening notwithstanding – at which point you or someone like you will assure as that Russia is collapsing while any growth is physically impossible.

  28. sudden death says

    IIRC, specifically in Klaipeda, there were never such large quantities of Belarus petroleum products being loaded, roughly from 1 to 2 million tonnes a year at most.

  29. I think the end-game is to turn it into a giant anarchic zone they can use for live fire exercises, weapon tests and so on and so forth. Basically just a swathe of polluted, irradiated wasteland that’s eternally bombed by everything

  30. It will never – but Magadan and Kamchatka will be roughly southern Canadian by 2100 as the Siberian High collapses

    The problem is that the north parts are very exposed to arctic currents – there’s no large mountain chain to block them all the way until the south

  31. I still don’t get why Germany is getting rid of nuclear power…. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Their leader is a goddamn idiot.

  32. Their leader is a goddamn idiot.

    Actually, she answers to the German public and that is how she was able to stay on top of her rivals. She welcomed refugees to avoid criticism from the left and kept a good lead over SPD, and even the Greens with their anti-nuclear agenda.

    Well, Corona will bring the CDU-CSU down… but Merkel managed to ride the waves well…

    Germans today are neurotic imbecilles that fear nuclear, and welcome refugees because doing otherwise would make Adolf rise from the grave.

  33. Every supply disruption in the past was caused by Ukrainians attempting to use their control of the pipe to extort concessions from Russia.

    Germany also heavily supported both Ukrainian Maidans. There is a correlation between the Maidan and the pipelines in the Baltic sea.

    Maidan 1 2004
    NS 1 2005
    Maidan 2 2014
    NS 2 2015

    German embassy for instance financed Hromad’ske, a media company established right before the second Maidan. It became the official Maidan media company. In 2016, their sponsors were leaked to public, and low and behold, Germany embassy is on the list. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung was also heavily doling out grants.

    https://insomniacresurrected.com/2019/09/12/hromadskes-bohdan-kutepov-is-an-assohole/

  34. Felix Keverich says

    So Maidan was a German conspiracy to destroy Ukrainian GTS?

  35. showmethereal says

    That is true all over the world… Populations are moving to warmer areas of their respective countries. Though if temp keeps rising the “cold” areas will become more popular again.

  36. showmethereal says

    I dunno… She seems to be smarter than French or US leadership. France I know is getting rid of some nuclear (or at least plans to reduce the overall mix to 50%)… But I thought the Germans would be more sensible. The energy density is needed. yes sure – upgrade and make reactors safer – but to discard just seems silly… On the flip side – I’m surprised that nuclear doesn’t make up a higher percentage of the Russian energy mix. Russia is one of leaders in exporting nuclear tech… I would think they would be higher – like up near 50%… Anyone on here know why not?

  37. Actually, she answers to the German public and that is how she was able to stay on top of her rivals.

    In theory that is true…which of course is the main failure of democracy…idiots are allowed to vote. This is also the situation in the U. S.

    She welcomed refugees to avoid criticism from the left and kept a good lead over SPD, and even the Greens with their anti-nuclear agenda.

    That is not what a leader does. And that is why I italicized the word leader.

    Germans today are neurotic imbecilles that fear nuclear, and welcome refugees because doing otherwise would make Adolf rise from the grave.

    That is true, but America is also full of neurotic imbeciles.

  38. I dunno… She seems to be smarter than French or US leadership.

    A left-handed compliment if there ever was one.

    But I thought the Germans would be more sensible.

    They used to be, but then so did the U. S.

    On the flip side – I’m surprised that nuclear doesn’t make up a higher percentage of the Russian energy mix. Russia is one of leaders in exporting nuclear tech… I would think they would be higher – like up near 50%… Anyone on here know why not?

    I agree…but I do not know the answer to your question.

  39. So Maidan was a German conspiracy to destroy Ukrainian GTS?

    Not entirely, the Germans were just throwing gasoline on the pyre.

  40. Philip Owen says

    I am not suggesting collapse. I am suggesting easily realizable potential in excess of capabilty, which is increasing as AK’s charts reveal.

  41. Marshal Marlow says

    That’s a very plausible guess. Regarding the economics of nuclear, construction requires a heap of upfront capital and long lead-times before that borrowed capital can begin to be repaid. Once that capital is repaid nuclear energy becomes super cheap, but getting to that point is really really expensive.

    Capital is scarce in Russia, so it makes sense for them to invest in energy types that require less capital and/or offer faster returns. In that regard, the US should be full of nuclear reactors as it controls the vast majority of capital available for investment. However, instead of investing for the long term, those with capital in the US gamble billions on pay-as-you-go electric scooter businesses. Go figure.

  42. No such thing as “reverse gas”, closing ukrop transit stops a big source of their own natural gas consumption ( though these volumes of industrial and personal consumption have catastrophically fallen since evromaidan)

    That’s several billion dollars of extra costs for Ukrainian state and ukrop tax payer. In addition, indirect cost benefits from gas transit to Europe are easily worth another 3 billion USD, at least.

    GDP, including the fake one the ukrop authorities give, are irrelevant to this anyway. The percentage of state budget or state expenditure is what’s important. GTS incomes are somewhere from 8-10% of state expenditure.

  43. showmethereal says

    Yeah that’s a decent guess. I will have to look up the energy mix to see how much of Russia’s gas is exported vs used domestically. But my idea is being that they are adamant in exporting their nuclear tech I would have assumed it was much higher part of the mix. I would have thought at least 1/3 and close to 1/2.

  44. Of course you are not claiming collapse – you already CLAIMED collapse some time ago.

    Obviously I must have also misread all that you wrote about why Rus ports can not manage additional exports & imports – my bad (sarc).

    But no worry, by the time more will be going through Rus ports nobody will remember those comment about ‘physical impossibility’ of handling additional loads.

  45. Xi-jinping says

    If you keep your eye on political developments within Russia proper, it seems like many youth want to be ‘more european’. This movement will grow as the NED (and other US organizations) pour greater funds into this. Furthermore, Russia is greatly hurt by allowing Instagram, Facebook and Youtube on its territory, as this is used by youth who watch disinformation agents (channels such as TheLudi).

    In fact there was recently an expose on the Russian ‘opposition’ that ended up being entirely funded and trained by the US and whose purpose (amongst other things) is to monitor Russian troop movements.

    What will happen when Putin leaves? A liberal takes power. And if he doesn’t, there will be a maidan with paid shills demanding ‘more democracy’. Of course the communists will never be allowed to take power by the US, same as they were prevented from taking power after winning the 1996 election.

    There is only one path for Russia – a great firewall, banning of any business interests in politics (separation of private capital and state) and banning from businessmen having private international properties/bank accounts.

  46. Xi-jinping says

    Poland has disliked Russians since the 1660’s when Russia defeated Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

    It has nothing to do with the ‘misdeeds’ of the USSR. It wrangled the Polish to be controlled by those they view as ‘untermensch’/barbarians which is where their resentment towards the Russians (not the USSR) stems from. Poland has no problems being ruled or occupied by Germans/Americans (who they view as superiors). But being ruled by “inferiors” hurts their pride

    This is the point im trying to hammer into the heads of everyone here – Russia is not European and will never be accepted in Europe. Russia is first and foremost Asian.

  47. demografie says

    Putin said it best. Europe and Asia is next to Russia. Russia need to go own way.

  48. Xi-Jinping says

    Orthodox Christianity is not as great of an identity in Russia as you think. The government is trying to push it, but I believe this is a mistake (perhaps it is intentional).

    Next Russia should be moving away from Orthodox Christianity as Orthodox Christianity/Church has historically been the enemy of the Russian People. In fact, what does a jewish religion of desert nomads have to do with Russia?

    But that is neither here nor there.

    Asia is far more likely to accept Russia than Europe because Asia has not had a history of bloody religious wars and is mostly athiest/buddhist and thus religion does not play a significant role in its decision making.

    Finally, Russians have an aspect of Asian genetics thanks to conquest by Mongols and later intermixing with asiatic tribes.

  49. Xi-Jinping says

    Also I want to mention, instead of watching the growth of Russian ports/agriculture, it would be interesting to see what the percentage of foreign ownership/investment is. This is a far more important measure given current political climates.

  50. Philip Owen says

    Good question. My off the cuff answer would be none. For example, Vyborg, the new container port near St Petersburg was all Russian and subject to a struggle between oligarchs. That said, I am not aware of legal restrictions. I have been asked to raise funds for a port at the entrance to the Volga-Don canal but I want to see more progress on shaping the business plan. Most Russian investment proposals are very badly done. The ports are getting a lot of state aid which attracts oligarchs who have less demanding investment criteria. They recognize a loot level opportunity when they see one. Russia badly needs more foreign investors, especially industry participants.

  51. Orthodox Christianity is not as great of an identity in Russia as you think. The government is trying to push it, but I believe this is a mistake (perhaps it is intentional).

    Next Russia should be moving away from Orthodox Christianity as Orthodox Christianity/Church has historically been the enemy of the Russian People.

    true