Since 2007, the group has been investing in the construction of specialised silo facilities for the containerisation of export grains. The annual traffic produced by this facility, which is still unusual in Russia, was almost 4800 TEU in 2011 with commodities being shipped to destinations in SE Asia, the ISC and East Mediterranean.
Besides food-stuffs in bulk, GCS offers wide containerisation opportunities for fertiliser exporters. Leading Russian producers of nitroammophos, ammonium nitrate and carbamide ship more than 2000 TEU a year via the GCS off-dock terminals.
Andrey Naraevsky, GCS’s director liner and business development, says his company is ready to invest further into facilities such as bulk storage areas, conveyors and pumping and bagging plants.
“We will be capable of handling a variety of bulk commodities moving through various Russian ports including St Petersburg and Novorossiysk,” he said, adding that potential demand for the containerisation of bulk exports in Russia is enormous.
“Approximately 70% of Russian non-oil & gas exports consist of dry and liquid bulk products such as ores, coal, fertilisers, petrochemicals etc,” he said.
“We believe there to be a huge growth opportunity in the containerisation of some of these bulk traffics to the benefit of shippers, terminals and shipping lines.
“It will also be possible to switch some cargoes currently moved in bags and drums into containerised bulk, saving substantially on the cost of labour and packaging.”
In the first half of 2012, Russian container exports surged by almost 17.5%, due in part to the transfer of certain traffic flows into containers fitted with flexi-tanks or simple liners.
Naraevsky said GCS has been looking closely at the European scene where many large cargo flows move in ISO containers.
“If it makes sense in Europe, it must make even more sense in Russia," he said.
"The structure of Russian foreign trade, the distances between production locations and ports, and the condition of inland infrastructure call for more containerisation. And of course we have to cope with the Russian rail wagon congestion and severe winter conditions at some gateways, when containers can be the only option for the expedient shipment of freight.”