Grain and fish may be subject to restrictions on road transshipment

On October 14, the State Duma adopted in the first reading a bill that, from March 1, 2022, will introduce restrictions on the transshipment of a number of cargoes from ship to ship (road transshipment) outside the seaports. It follows from the document that the transshipment of pollutants in the internal sea waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone of Russia will be allowed only in special transshipment areas assigned to the seaport. Their list and rules for conducting operations must be approved by the government. In the exclusive economic zone, loading and unloading must be carried out in a notification manner.

The list of polluting cargo will also be determined by a separate decree. His project is at the disposal of Vedomosti. The list includes coal, fertilizers, liquid chemical cargo, oil and oil products, sulfur, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gases, scrap metal, ore and containers, as well as grain and perishable goods. According to sources from agricultural companies, the author of the proposals is the Ministry of Transport (this was also confirmed by a federal official). The ban will not affect bunkering, the removal of goods from oil platforms and emergency reloading.

Initially, it was assumed that the restrictions would affect really dangerous goods, and the inclusion of grain and perishable goods in the list came as a surprise to market participants. The draft list was sent out on the eve of the State Duma meeting; earlier representatives of neither the grain nor the fish industry knew about this, say two interlocutors of Vedomosti in companies operating in the industries. According to a source who participated in the discussion at the Ministry of Agriculture, the department agreed on a different version, in which there were no restrictions on the transshipment of grain.

The criteria by which the list of goods was compiled are not indicated in the documents. But at a meeting in the Federation Council before the adoption of the bill in the State Duma, it was said that grain is potentially dangerous due to the risk of fire. In the draft resolution, the pollutant was named “flour and grain dust”. But it is not on the list of pollutants approved by the government in 2015 (order No. 1316-r).

The representative of the Ministry of Transport did not answer the questions of Vedomosti about why and by what criteria the list was determined, explaining that the project would be finalized. In May 2021, the State Council Commission on Transport and Ecology proposed to the government to consider the possibility of banning all road transshipment outside ports from March 2025. This initiative is planned to be considered in the second reading of the bill.

Also in the State Duma is a bill on administrative fines for violation of the rules for the transshipment of dangerous goods. Individuals are proposed to be fined in the amount of 100,000 to 200,000 rubles, and for violation in the exclusive economic zone – half as much, legal entities – by 5-10 million and 0.5-1 million rubles. respectively.

In the opinion of business, the restrictions will reduce the competitiveness of export goods and negatively affect the development of water transport and shipbuilding. The prohibition of road transshipment will lead to a reorientation of cargo flows to railways and motor vehicles and to an increase in the cost of the logistics component, says Rustem Galeev, the administrative director of the Volga Shipping Company. According to the deputy general director of Aston JSC (the largest exporter of vegetable oils) Vladimir Ochatov, the cost of logistics from the Volga region reaches 25% of the export price of grain.

Thus, transportation of 1 ton of wheat from Samara to Novorossiysk by rail is $ 44, by road – $ 60–95, and by water – about $ 30.

According to the federal center “Agroexport”, grain is in 1st place in the export of agricultural products. From January 1 to October 10, 2021, grain was shipped for $ 7.7 billion (30.6% of food supplies). Fish and seafood products were supplied for $ 4.5 billion, this category ranks third with a share of 18%.

According to the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, the department wrote to the Ministry of Transport and the government that the norms of the bill are supported, but should not apply to agricultural products. He also noted that the restriction of road transshipment with limited possibilities of the railway and automobile infrastructure on the approaches to the ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin may lead to the loss of leading positions in the world grain market. With a decrease in exports, there is a risk of “slowing down the rate of development of crop production and a reduction in production in a number of related subsectors,” the source added.

The general director of Infoline-Analytics, Mikhail Burmistrov, believes that the ban on road transshipment of grain will affect at least 12 million tons of export shipments, and it will be difficult to compensate for them through alternative logistics schemes with a lack of infrastructure. “It is nonsense to ban the most cost-effective part of Russian grain exports, which makes up 30–40% of the total volume from season to season,” says Eduard Zernin, Chairman of the Board of the Union of Grain Exporters. “The winners of the United Grain Company’s exchange auctions are already facing the inability to deliver the contracted volumes of wheat by rail on time,” he says. If the volumes that go along the Volga by river transport are launched along this chain, the railway will simply drown, Zernin emphasized.

Restrictions on the transshipment of fish will also create problems for the industry. Helminth eggs, in particular, are recognized as a dangerous factor for perishable goods. As the president of the All-Russian Association of Fisheries (VARPE) German Zverev told Vedomosti, “wild fish can be infected with helminths – this is a natural process”. It is possible to understand whether there are helminths in fish only with a veterinary and sanitary examination in the port, he says. According to VARPE estimates, the loss on the Okhotsk sea pollock fishing line alone when the vessel moves from the fishing area to the port and back will amount to more than RUB 75 million. due to under-catch, additional costs – 3.7–5 million rubles. According to Zverev, during this fishing season one ship will have to sail to the port 5-6 times, he estimated its losses at 375-458 million rubles, additional costs – at 18.5-29.7 million rubles.

Zverev added that within the framework of the first stage of the investment quotas program, 56 fishing vessels are being built for long-term fishing at a distance of 2000-2500 miles from the coast without entering the port. “The new requirement jeopardizes the payback of these investment projects and threatens to fail the program,” he summed up.

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