The volume of transshipped cargo continued to increase in Latvia’s major ports in March, with an increase observed in almost all cargo groups, according to the operative data compiled by the Ministry of Transport.
In the first quarter of the year, the ports handled 12.32 million tons of cargo in total, which is 10.5% more than in the first quarter of last year. In March, there were 4.64 million tons of cargo handled, which is 1.06 million tons more than in February this year.
The war Russia started in Ukraine and the resulting international sanctions against Russia and Belarus did not yet affect cargo turnover significantly in ports in March. Still, this factor is expected to dramatically impact port operations in the future. Changes occurred in the countries of origin of cargo and the dynamics of different types of cargo.
In March, large ports handled 1.07 million tons of coal, an increase of 12 times over last year. It is also 61% more than in February. In March, the leader in this type of cargo was the Freeport of Riga, which handled 541.9 thousand tons of coal, followed by the Port of Ventspils with 527.8 thousand tons of transshipped coal. In March, the Port of Liepaja handled 6.5 tons of coal.
There was also an increase in oil product cargo in March compared to February - a total of 776.5 thousand tons of oil products were handled in large ports, which is 53% more than in February. Yet, it is 270 thousand tons or 26% less than last year.
When commenting on the turnover of oil products and coal cargo in ports, Minister of Transport Tālis Linkaits noted that the European Union’s restriction on imports of coal and other solid fossil fuels of Russian origin would affect the transit sector in the coming months. In contrast, impact in this regard is not yet expected, while sanctions have not affected oil exports from Russia.
T. Linkaits emphasises that the Ministry of Transport strictly advocates the observance of sanctions and provides support to the entrepreneurs of the sector in receiving explanations and coordination with other state institutions. Latvia, together with the other Baltic States and Poland, has advocated for tougher sanctions in transportation. Latvia will implement this decision if the European Union decides to introduce any new restrictions immediately.
In the general cargo segment, the increase is 9.9% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, of which 6.9% more container cargo was handled. In comparison, the increase is 17.9% in the ro-ro cargo group. Timber has been handled by 4.6% more this year, but metals by 30% less.
In the first three months of the year, rail cargo transport increased by 13.2% compared to 2021 - a total of 6.8 million tonnes of freight was transported, a third of which is accounted for by export cargo. In March, one observed changes in the countries of origin of cargo, as cargo from Ukraine decreased by 71%, Belarus by 33%, while the volume of cargo from Kazakhstan increased by 54% compared to February.
In the first quarter of the year, the Freeport of Riga handled 5.78 million tons of cargo, which is 7.1% more than in the first three months of 2021. In March, there were 2.26 million tons of cargo handled in total that was 15% more than in the same month last year. Last month was particularly successful for container traffic at the Freeport of Riga because 40 container liners entered the port, carrying almost half a million tons of containerised cargo, the largest monthly volume in the last two years and a repeat of the monthly record. Compared to February, the total timber flow also increased, exceeding half a million tons, while shipments of grain cargo increased slightly.
In their turn, the terminals operating at the Freeport of Ventspils handled 1.6 million tons of cargo in March, which is 21.7% more than in March last year. In the first quarter of 2022, a total of 3.96 million tons were handled, which is 10.6% more than in the corresponding period of 2021. This quarter shows the first results of the cargo diversification policy, looking for opportunities to replace the volumes of Russian coal lost two years ago. The bulk cargo segment grew by 157% in the first quarter. According to forecasts, the volume of liquid cargo has decreased, id est, minus 31% compared to last year. Meanwhile, general cargo has positive results - an increase of 14%.
In the first three months of the year, 2.04 million tons of cargo were handled in the Port of Liepaja, which is an increase of 30.7% compared to the first quarter of the previous year. The Port of Liepaja handled 61% more grain this year than last year, 930 thousand tons in total.