The main sea ports in Russia’s north experienced a 40 percent year-on-year increase in throughput in 2016. Russian Arctic shipping is on the increase as several major industrial projects are under development and the Russian Navy builds new bases along the Russian Arctic coast.
Murmansk experienced the biggest growth with 33.4 million tons of goods handled, a 50 percent increase. Murmansk is one of the largest ice-free ports in Russia. It is located on the coast of Kola Bay in the Barents Sea.
The oil terminal at Varandey on the Pechora Sea also experienced significant growth, handling eight million tons of oil, a 21.6 percent increase on 2015.
Murmansk handled about 15 million tons of goods, a two percent increase.
Dudinka, an Arctic river port operated mainly by Norilsk Nickel, handled 1.2 million tons of goods, up 1.6 percent.
Sabetta, a new port in the Yamal Peninsula, handled more than nine million tons of goods.
In contrast, the Barents Independent Observer reports Arkhangelsk port throughput declined by around 30 percent. Arkhangelsk’s port fees are among the highest in Russia, and regional Governor Igor Orlov has called for a unified fee scheme for all Arctic sea ports.
Russian has recently adopted amendments in its federal commercial shipping law to cater for the growing number of offshore installations in the Arctic. The Law on Commercial Shipping law states that Russian vessels will be given priority not only in shipping between Russian ports, but also between a Russian port and an offshore installation, artificial island and any other offshore facility located on the country’s continental shelf.
Russia is developing several offshore installations along its Arctic coast including Gazprom Neft’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, its Novy Port offshore terminal in the Gulf of Ob and Lukoil’s Varandey terminal.