St. Petersburg TEU Traffic Plunges

St. Petersburg TEU Traffic Plunges

LONDON — The First Container Terminal in St. Petersburg, Russia’s biggest box terminal, reported traffic in February plunged 27.3 percent from a year ago as imports collapsed.

The terminal handled 61,301 TEUs in February, taking volume for the first two months of the year to 124,608 TEUs, a drop of 24.7 percent on the same period in 2008.

The decline “is a direct result of the unfolding economic downturn which is affecting Russian importers in every possible way,” said Egor Govorukhin, vice president sales and marketing at National Container Co., the terminal’s owner.

NCC’s terminal at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk saw traffic in the first two months fall 12 percent to 20,909 TEUs and its UTC terminal in Ukraine was down 60 percent at 33,148 TEUs.

NCC is performing better than rival terminal operators with its share of the Russian box market rising to 40 percent in January from 28.8 percent in December, Govorukhin said, citing government figures. Russian container traffic totalled around 3.5 million TEUs in 2008.

The upside of the declining market is that carriers can choose a terminal which suits their requirements “which is a drastic change compared to previous periods marked by severe congestion and a tremendous lack of terminal capacity,” Govorukhin said.

NCC, which is jointly owned by Russian ocean carrier Fesco and investment group First Quantum, is reported to have halted the completion of a 500,000 TEUs-a-year container terminal at Ust-Luga, some seventy five miles west of St. Petersburg.