Thursday, July 5, 2018

Russia Taps Smaller Ports, Ship-to-Ship Transfers to Keep Pace with Record Wheat Exports

Via gCaptain:
Russia has so much wheat that it can’t export it all via the usual methods, so shippers are increasingly turning to a once-rare technique to get more grain on boats.

Most Russian wheat is loaded on ships in the deep waters of the Black Sea, but those ports have reached their limit. So as a work-around, traders are putting more grain on small ships in the nearby Sea of Azov, the world’s shallowest sea, and sending them to deeper water to transfer the cargo to larger vessels.

About 20 percent of Russia’s grain exports were exported via ship-to-ship transfers last year, up from just 2 percent in 2013.

The strategy — often used to move oil and gas — is becoming more common for Russian grain as the country deals with ever-bigger harvests and growing demand from far-away markets like Indonesia. It also shows how the grain industry is straining Russia’s infrastructure and reshaping shipping routes.

“This has become a leading channel of exports,” said Dmitry Rylko, director general at the Institute for Agriculture Market Studies, or IKAR. “Cargoes out of the Sea of Azov in recent years, especially during the current season, have brought about colossal volumes of ship-to-ship transfers.”

Floating cranes help send big shipments from the Azov to buyers on the other side of the world, who prefer to book large cargoes. Smaller boats ferry grain to vessels anchored in the Kerch Strait, which use cranes to load supplies onto bigger oceangoing craft that then sail though the Black Sea....MUCH MORE