Estonian ports handled record volume of cargo in July

30.08.2010, 16:30

Estonian ports handled 3.9 million tons of cargo in July that is 13% more than a year earlier. This has come as a surprise also for many in the logistics business since only four months ago no-one dared to forecast such growth and increased their confidence for the future, writes Äripäev.

According to economists, since the July figure also exceeds the result in July 2008, it is not statistical growth or a low-base effect.

Loading amounted to 2.8 million tons which is a fifth more than a year earlier. The last time that loading volumes were as high was four years ago. In seven months, Estonian ports loaded 18% more than a year earlier.

Also cargo unloading continues to grow and amount to more than one million tons in July. This is the highest figure for the last five years and 17% more than in July 2009.

Ain Kaljurand, CEO of state-owned Port of Tallinn that includes, among others, Estonia's main merchant port Muuga, said that the company's cargo handling had grown by about 17% in seven months in annual terms. "In other words, most of the growth shown by the statistics is coming from us," said Kaljurand.

According to the CEO, practically all cargo groups including liquid cargo, dry bulk, containers and ro-ro showed strong results. "What is positive is that the container and ro-ro business is up in our region, mainly because of the economic upturn and growing consumption."

Kaljurand added that the company was equally optimistic about August and expects positive figures also by the end of the year. "Growth may not amount to fifth, but we are definitely upbeat," said  the executive, adding that the company was in talks with Kazakhstan that is considering exporting a few million tons of grain through Muuga.

Port of Sillamäe in Northeast Estonia also saw its cargo volumes go up. "We are working to ensure that growth will continue also in coming years," said Margus Vähi, chairman of Silport, but declined to disclose results by different cargoes. According to Vähi, exports and imports were largely dependent on the recovery of world markets and the key to the transit business is still the ease of border crossing from and to Russia. "Until now, this channel is still blocked," he said.

Estonian Railways said it carried 16% more freight in seven months year on year. According to press spokesperson Urmas Glase, July freight volume was 2.24 million tons or 13.3% more than a year earlier. Oil and oil products amounted to 1.6 million tons. Among others, Estonian Railways is now shipping oil from Venezuela to Belarus.

Glase added, however, that the optimism may still be premature since 2009 was the worst year of the last decade. "While we carried over 44 million tons in 2005-2006, 36.7 million tons in 2007 and just over 26 million tons in 2008, the figure in 2009 was only 25.3 million tons," he said.