The Red Sage, a Capesize cargo ship, has arrived at the Ilyichevsk port with a cargo of coking coal from Australia intended for the Metinvest holding. The total size of the ship's cargo is 177,600 tons, of which 56,200 tons were unloaded in the roads and 121,400 tons in berths at the Ilyichevsk port, the CFTS correspondent reports.

Insufficient depths at the Ilyichevsk port’s berths are forcing shippers to seek alternative options for handling large cargoes on ships of the Capesize class, such as loading vessels in the roads or at other ports’ deep-water facilities. The Red Sage is a practical example of implementation of this new loading scheme - the first part of the ship's consignment (about 11,000 tons of iron ore) was loaded at the Ilyichevsk port’s berths and the second part (169,200 tons) at the Yuzhny port’s berth No. 6. In total, 180,200 tons of cargo was loaded onto the ship and its loading was completed on 21 October.

Thus, as the CFTS previously forecast, initial loading at the Ilyichevsk port and completion of loading at the Yuzhny port has already become the fourth option for the Capesize vessels in Ukrainian ports. Previously, vessels of this class were either fully loaded at the Yuzhny port’s deep-water berths, initially loaded at the TIS terminal’s berths before being fully loaded at the Yuzhny port, or their loading was completed on the roads at the Ilyichevsk port (which is the expensive option).

"For shippers, the use of the option of loading at the Ilyichevsk port plus the Yuzhny port can become an alternative to the already established system of loading Capesize vessels at TIS terminals and completing their loading at the Yuzhny port," said Andrii Isaiev, a senior analyst at CFTS Consulting. This move could improve capacity utilization at the Ilyichevsk port and reduce the loss of cargo traffic to the privately owned TIS, which is more competitive,” he said.

However, for this, the Ilyichevsk port needs to increase its loading rate substantially from the current 10,000-12,000 tons per day to 25,000 tons per day. "Interest of major shippers in the Ilyichevsk port will determine whether the port’s new management will be able to handle this task," the expert said. 

The Ilyichevsk port intends to increase its loading rate in the near future by investing in small-scale mechanization, among other things. In addition, the Ilyichevsk branch of the Administration of Seaports of Ukraine will begin dredging the port’s approach channel and waters in 2016. The relevant project has already been prepared. "Reconstruction of the water areas of Ilyichevsk port and deepening of its approach channel to 16 meters are planned," Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yurii Vaskov said at the beginning of October.

The head of the Ilyichevsk port’s trade union, Serhii Bryzhalov, believes that investment in dredging and increase of the loading rate are primarily beneficial to the state. "The state stevedore pays 35 cents out of every hryvnia of profit to the state. Therefore, the state should be interested in increasing the competitiveness of the state stevedore compared to private operators. If we take imported bulk cargoes, only TIS can compete with us in Ukraine. As for the Yuzhny port, it focuses on exports because of the nature of its loading operations. By handling the coal cargo from the Red Sage ship, the team has demonstrated that the state stevedore is no less efficient and competitive than a private operator," Bryzhalov said.