Waves of port crises

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Source: "Mirror of week"

The myth about a reserve of capacities

More than ten years of independence port economy of Ukraine worked in the conditions of shortage of freght traffics for full loading of existing capacities. On the one hand, it was explained by a long economic crisis after Union disintegration. With another - the Ukrainian seaports were under construction for service of needs of huge "empire". And states again formed on its basis (first of all, Russia) headed for development of own ports for transfer of the foreign trade freght traffics.

If in record 1990 in the Ukrainian sea trade ports 121,4 million tons of freights, in 1996 - m - year of the greatest recession - only 51 million tons were processed. Then I went to wander on mass media the phrase that all domestic ports process freights so much, how many one port Constance (Konstantsa's goods turnover in 1996 made 44,2 million tons).

There were years. In 2007 our sea trade ports belonging to the state processed already 123,7 million tons - more, than in the most record times of the Union. But, as before, in industry references, reports, from tribunes sounds: seaports have from 33 to 37% of excess capacities. From here simple official logic: why to develop ports? Let at first will load available capacities.

But these 33% of excess capacities on paper - are similar to the phrase about average temperature on hospital. For example, what relation the real reserve of capacities for transfer of oil and oil products in 50% (by data "Chernomorniiproyekt") has to processing of container freights?

Actually we already missed that moment when our sea trade ports started lagging behind inquiries of economy, started choking with growing freght traffics over and over again.

Container crisis

The beginning of the first port crisis which was widely publicized, it is possible to date for 2002-2003 when container transportations promptly increased. If in 2001 in the ports of Ukraine 165 thousand containers (in a twenty-foot equivalent - TEU), in 2007 - m - already more than 1 million TEU were processed. In only six years processing grew almost by 6,5 times.

It was necessary to notice this lifting. Nevertheless our ports, our country weren't ready to this container call of time. Turns of container carriers rather eloquently testified to unavailability on raids of the Odessa and Ilyichevsky ports. It is natural that with processing of containers in Ukraine carriers reacted to similar difficulties increase of tariffs for transportations in the direction of the Ukrainian ports.

From - that domestic ports had no opportunities for reception and fast processing of large container vessels, the Romanian port Constance succeeded. Here in 2004 constructed the new powerful container terminal. Thus, the bulk of containers for Ukraine at first was dumped from heavy-tonnage vessels in Constance (and other centers of a transshipment) and already then was delivered to the Ukrainian ports on smaller vessels.

Crisis with processing of containers was partly softened only to fall of 2007. The main stabilizing factor was opening of the updated terminal of Ilyichevsky sea trade port. The operator of the terminal, the Ukrtranskonteyner company, enclosed more than 51 mln. dollars in its reconstruction and modernization and increased annual capacity to 850 thousand TEU. Thanks to it today the Ilyichevsky port can accept at the same time three large-capacity container carriers (including two - on "Ukrtranskonteyner" terminal) with a capacity more than 5000 TEU.

The result wasn't slow to affect. During 2007 the largest world shipping companies opened five new straight lines from ports of the Far East to Ilyichevsk. That considerably reduced time of delivery of container freights to Ukraine and reduced the price of it.

Second wave

The problem isn't solved with processing of containers yet, but the wave of new crisis already rises.

If to ask a simple question - what processing of types of freights grew in the sea trade ports of Ukraine the last seven years the highest rates, I am afraid, even many transport workers won't manage to give the correct answer.

At first sight, container freights.Really, their processing with 2001-го till 2007 increased on the average annually (in tons) at the level of 28,8%. It is very high growth. But at the same time processing of all group of Tarn - piece (general) freights which treat container, increased modest rates - on the average by 4,1% a year. From 28,96 million tons in 2000 she grew to 38 million tons in 2007 - m, i.e. by only 1,31 times.

And the fastest rates (on the average 11,47%) since 2000 on 2007-й processing of bulk, loose cargoes grew. It increased from 29,5 million tons in 2000 to 60,8 million - in 2007 - m, that is by 2,06 times.

As a result, if in 2000 in the general goods turnover of the Ukrainian sea trade ports the share of bulk cargoes was only 35,2%, in 2007 - m it increased already to 49,2%.

What it for the freights taking today leader positions in the sea trade ports of Ukraine?

On transfer volumes first place among them is won by coal and coke - 16,25 million tons in 2007. Since 2000 on 2007-й volumes of transfer of coal and coke grew by 2,44 times. Average height made 15,4% a year.

On the second place - ore. Its transfer grew especially considerably - almost by 4,3 times (!), with 3,2 to 14,46 million tons. Average height - 24,8% a year that is close to growth rates of processing of container freights which we already got used to call record.

Processing of chemical, construction, grain and other bulk cargoes grew also.

On the one hand, it more than an evidence of raw character of economy of Ukraine leaving crisis. With another - growth set the serious tasks for ports, to solve fully which they weren't ready at present. Freght traffics of coal and ore "rested" against shortage of capacities for transfer of bulk cargoes in our ports.

Deadlocks for freght traffics

The extraordinary rise in prices for oil stimulated in recent years the increased demand for coal in the world, and the Russian coal traders, ready to deliver more and more production to the world market, loudly complain of lack of sufficient port capacities for this purpose both in Russia, and in neighboring countries, including Ukraine. Besides that transit of the Russian coals through the Ukrainian sea trade ports jumped up in seven years by 2,8 times - to 12,1 million tons in 2007 - m

Design capacity of the largest specialized ugolno - the ore terminal in Ukraine in port Youzhny is exceeded for a long time.The port in 2007 processed 3,9 million tons of coal and 5,1 million tons of ore and is compelled to refuse additional volumes. And after all it, in fact, only in the country the deep-water port working with coal.

We will remind that today in Ukraine there are only three deep-water sea trade ports - Southern, Odessa and Ilyichevsk which have 13-15 - meter depths at moorings and are capable to accept completely loaded heavy-tonnage vessels of the class "panamaks". And that only on the several moorings.

However the Odessa port is exposed to rigid pressure from the city authorities which are bringing up a question of its carrying out for line of a resort. Therefore here sharply reduce transfer of bulk (raising dust) cargoes. And if last year here processed a little more than 600 thousand tons of coal, this year there will be no it also.

In Ilyichevsk to port with coal practically don't work. However, decent volumes of coal overwork today in Mariupol - 3,4 million tons, Nikolaev and Izmail - 2,3 and 2,1 million tons respectively. But heavy-tonnage vessels here can't come: depths allow to accept vessels with an osadka from 10,3 meters in Nikolaev to seven meters in Izmail.

Today there was a demand for processing of large volumes of import coal in the Ukrainian seaports. If in 2000 - m they were more than modest, in 2007 - m already made 664 thousand tons. And could be much more …

At the end of last year the Ukrkoks association carried out a press - conference where it was spoken about disturbing prospects of shortage in Ukraine being coked coals. According to association forecasts, in 2008 production of coke in the country won't exceed 17,5 million tons at requirement of metallurgy in 19,5 million. Coals need to be delivered from far away, however the port infrastructure isn't ready yet to reception of large vessels and mass transfer of loose freights, the general director "Ukrkoksa" claimed.

Only reception of vessels with a deadweight of 100 thousand tons and more can solve this problem. Then it will be possible to carry favourably to coal from Australia, the USA, Canada, South Africa. And now heavy-tonnage vessels go again - to the Romanian Constance...

To whom to shout "guard"?

There is a natural question - where watches the administration? Alas, our branch administration of the last years as - that overlooked. That was promoted by annual change of the management of the ministry: each new team started studying branch problems "from scratch".

And in surveys of experts which were conducted annually by the Ports of Ukraine magazine, steadily the personnel leapfrog, appointment to senior positions of nonprofessionals and crisis in management of a water transport of the country were called as the main troubles of branch.

One of manifestations of crisis it is quite possible to consider the become frequent refusals of heads of the enterprises to execute ministerial orders, up to their appeal in court. Most often "through court" heads of ports and other state transport enterprises rendered resistance at dismissal. It is possible to remember how in the first half 90-x heads former, still mighty, Black Sea shipping company tried to be restored at work through court. But cases with chiefs of ports became frequent recently.

I tried to count, how many chiefs of sea trade ports (and also the acting chiefs of ports) were in lawsuits of various view with the branch ministry in new century, in 2001-2007. And, frankly speaking, it was struck with results of calculations - 25 people. It is possible to remind that at us is in the country of only 19 state sea trade ports.

Alas, so solid representation in the list of claimants can't be explained with an indiscipline or shortcomings of work of certain heads. It is more logical to explain to that sea trade ports belonging to the state were in recent years objects of the political and non-political auction when vocational training and quality of work of heads, to put it mildly, weren't main in the solution of a question on their appointment. When people dismissed simply because it was necessary or to pay off a place with someone for services during election campaign, or to release a chair for "the" person.

Response of the dismissed didn't keep itself waiting long. Especially they already were taught by life: Ministers of Transport at us more year and a half didn't hold the last years a position, so, it is possible to count really on return to a former chair with arrival of the next branch head. It is necessary to walk only on vessels, to pull time, to refresh communications at the highest levels...


But to the point of absurdity a situation with management of port economy of Ukraine finished to summer of 2007 when after Ukrmorport state concern creation in branch the diarchy was created. Concern subordinated directly to the Cabinet, passing Mintranssvyaz. The ministry disagreed with it.As a result to ports began to appoint chiefs as the ministry, and "Ukrmorport".

On a number of the enterprises it appeared formally on two and more heads. Here it is necessary to consider that to two chiefs - from concern and the ministry - were added before dismissed which received decisions of the courts of various instances about restoration at work. The port Youzhny became the champion, four various chiefs applied for the management which at the same time and "under the law".

As in a similar situation the law ceased to play a crucial role, to the forefront there were power options. Physically to take storm a treasured office, to seize power in port, government institutions started attracting groups of "sympathizing" or simply strong children from security firms. The most striking examples - successful attempt of Ukrmorport Group to take control over port Youzhny in August, 2007 and unsuccessful in October 2007-го - to take control over the port of Ilyichevsk.

Hens and gold eggs

The relation of the state to the sea trade ports of Ukraine always was frankly consumer. It is most juicy it I formulated the ex-the president of the country Leonid Kuchma during one of trips to Odessa. Seaports, he told, these are the hens laying gold eggs. Also I added that if someone from roosters badly copes with work, them will change. It is clear that heads of ports took the remark personally.

Most sharply the relation to seaports as to a source of gold eggs, it was shown in 2005-2006 when the Cabinet of Ministers simply obliged them 50% of profit to transfer into the budget. Time ports state, let it will be our dividends, judged in the government. Subsequently the decision partially revised, but also today sea trade ports transfer 15% of profit.

At the end of 2005 the Minister of Transport Victor Bondar of that time sounded mintransovsky calculations. It appeared that for the first 15 years of independence of Ukraine sea trade ports transferred in a type of tax into budgets of all levels almost
11 bln. dollars while reinvestments to ports made only 100 mln. dollars

I became result of such relation both physical, and an obsolescence of fixed assets. They "were simply eaten". Striking example - a present condition of crane economy.

In emergency operation

Cranes are the main type of reloading cars in the seaports, in many respects defining their opportunities.

For the beginning of 2008 in sea trade ports nearly 600 cranes were. Quantitatively seemingly not bad. But their middle age, by data ekspertno - the technical center for portal cranes of Ukraine (Dialab firm), already exceeded 28 years, and degree of wear of all park of cranes made 94,6% (!). Updating is carried out extremely insufficiently: last year - less than ten units.

You ask how it is possible to process tens of millions tons of freights with such "second-hand articles"? It is possible, but approximately the same as to go by "Zhiguli" of similar age: weekly then to dolly up, there to tie up.

Sounds horribly? Then I will dare to quote a fragment from last year's article in the Ports of Ukraine magazine of Vitaly Pustovy, the Doctor of Engineering, the director of Dialab firm:

"The insufficient amounts of financing of repair work don't allow to restore operability of extremely worn-out reloading equipment, in this regard the tendency to uncontrollable destruction of cranes is observed … For these reasons in the majority of ports the system according to plan - precautionary repairs is transferred to system of elimination of crashes".

It is clear that such park of cranes won't be able intensively to work. And really in 2007 the average efficiency of cranes was up to standard 0,31. For comparison: the average coefficient on leading foreign ports is at the level of 0,7.

We will add that the vast majority of our cranes are acquaintances much at least visually portal cranes with sharnirno - the jointed boom system. It long ago the outdate design with high metal consumption, power consumption, the cost, demanding big costs of service and repair. The principles of designing of such cars were created in 30-x years of last century. Today in many ports of the world, including in the advanced ports of Russia, they are intensively forced out by cranes of new generation - mobile, portalno - mobile.

You don't help - don't disturb

I will remind the readers far from a branch perspective that seaports are not simply transport enterprises. These are real sea gate of the country which effective work promotes or interferes with development of foreign trade of Ukraine, its economy. And if domestic miners from - for shortages of port capacities can't increase export of the ore, it not a problem only miners. It is a state problem.In similar cases (and not only in the developed countries) the governments allocate budgetary funds for expansion, development of the of "sea gate".

From rather recent, but impressive examples it is possible to call the national program of development of sea transport of India accepted in 2006 which provides, in particular, till 2012 to spend 13,3 bln. dollars for development of capacities of 12 main Indian ports. The main goal - to create more favorable conditions for development of the Indian export. The most part of these investments is carried out at the expense of the state budget.

Well, and if the governments don't allocate money, at least, create the most favorable conditions for private investments into port economy.

And here to us especially to brag there is nothing. Private investments if go, with huge difficulties, pretty often without thanking, and contrary to efforts of various state structures. Characteristic example: the private stevedoring company "Transinvestservice" constructed in 2007 a new ore reloading complex in the port water area Youzhny. One of the moorings 255 meters long largest in the country with depths at a cordon of 14 meters was built within a complex.

I want to emphasize especially is in general the only (!) new mooring built in Ukraine in 2007 in seaports. At the time of the Union on initiators, investors, builders, and also, as they say, "not privy" the rain from awards and medals already would spill. We have a transport and communication Ministry not only long and persistently didn't want to notice the built deep-water mooring, but also did everything possible to prevent the beginning of its work. Why - it is possible to guess only.

With things - on privatization?

But as - that needs to be solved problems of our state ports. On Mintranssvyaz board in March, 2008 the new minister Iosif Vinsky, characterizing work of the predecessors, I told that the problem of "decumulation" of fixed assets arose owing to that policy which was pursued in branches, including from silent support of heads of a number of the enterprises.

I think, the minister told, is in general there was a special policy that through some period of time to raise a question that the branch is incapacitated that the so-called effective owner which for nothing the state property will take away is necessary to it.

Because nearly tens years went "decumulation" of fixed assets, Iosif Vinsky continued, we at the expense of the resources won't be able to restore them. It is clear that we will be compelled to look for how to attract the private capital in branch … Milliard investments have to come to improvement of activity of all transport system not cheap, but, - and to come on a transparent basis.

So, so privatization?

That someone was confused not too by this word in relation to the state sea trade ports, will explain that "soft" privatization in a number of ports goes for a long time. There is it in the form of privatization the main for ports of reloading (stevedoring) activity.

For example, in the Odessa port in 2007 of 70% of total amount of cargo transfer executed nine private stevedoring companies, in Nikolaevsk seaport 47% of volume of cargo transfer fell to the share of three private stevedoring companies, etc. And all in port economy of Ukraine - as on private terminals, including river ports, and in the state seaports - more than 50 non-state stevedoring companies to which share about 40% of goods turnover of all ports and country terminals fall work today.

Therefore, most likely from new team of the transport ministry it is necessary to wait for steps in the direction of not privatization of ports as those, and in the direction of legitimation for a long time going processes of privatization of reloading and other activity in ports. Naturally, except for the activity connected with state supervision, safety of navigation.

According to the available information, the relevant proposals already prepare for their entering or into the existing Code of trade navigation, or into the draft of the new law on seaports (it while is accepted in the first reading).

However, judging by statements of the management of the ministry, fight for revision of leases or about joint activity on the basis of which in seaports the private companies work today still is necessary. Iosif Vinsky in general called forms of rent nowadays existing in seaports and joint activity "deribany the state property".

But this fight for private stevedores, it is necessary to recognize, business though heavy, however habitual. And here normal legislative base for the activity they yet видывали.


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