The government will divide the sea // Restrictions on road transshipment of goods go to the State Duma

Despite harsh criticism from business, the government approved a bill introducing restrictions on road transshipment. The document is to be submitted to the State Duma in the near future. The business achieved an exclusion from the draft of the article on the road collection, but was unable to obtain guarantees that the new requirements would not affect the current transshipment within the boundaries of seaports.

The government approved a bill prohibiting the roadstead transshipment of “pollutants” outside seaports. In the decisions taken at the meeting on June 10, it is noted that the entry into force of the document will allow “to reduce the threat of emergencies and the threat of environmental pollution to minimum values.” In the near future, the document will be submitted to the State Duma, the government explained to Kommersant.

According to the bill, now the government will determine certain areas of the internal sea waters and the territorial sea, where the road transshipment of “pollutants” will be allowed.

The list of these substances, as well as the rules for loading and unloading operations, will also be drawn up by the government. The new ban will not affect bunkering, the removal of goods from oil platforms and emergency transshipment.

Unlike the previous version, about which Kommersant wrote on May 17, the bill did not include an article on raid collection (should compensate for potential environmental damage). At the same time, contrary to the requests of the business, no exceptions were granted to the current transshipment within the seaports. Although Kommersant’s sources in the government claim that the existing projects will receive permits, Kommersant’s interlocutors in shipping companies are concerned about this: “The current regulation is working, issues are being resolved at the level of the Ministry of Transport, why submit them to the government?” On the whole, Kommersant’s sources in the industry believed that the main blow would fall on companies operating in the Azov-Black Sea basin.

Officials expect an increase in the capacity of Russian terminals by 70% by 2035

The companies tried to block the approval of the bill through the mechanism of the “regulatory guillotine”. Thus, representatives of business in the working group on the “regulatory guillotine” in the field of water transport unanimously did not agree on the document (a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the working group is available from “Kommersant”). At the same time, it was noted that road transshipment is widely used in the Russian Federation and the world, as it is characterized by planning flexibility, environmental friendliness, safety, does not require the development of expensive port infrastructure and provision of depths, and also allows the use of inland water transport. Business representatives stated that the ban on road transshipment would reduce the competitiveness of Russian export goods, negatively affect the development of inland waterway transport and shipbuilding, and the reorientation of cargo flows to other types of transport would lead to “a significant increase in the level of environmental pollution.” However, government representatives in the working group did not agree with these arguments.

On the other hand, port operators, which have invested heavily in capacity expansion in recent years, support restrictions on road transshipment. For example, one of Kommersant’s sources notes that historically the development of offshore transshipment in the country was due to the limited capacity of deep-water terminals, but now this constraining factor is disappearing.

A clash of interests between stevedores and shippers could lead to further tightening of the bill.

In May, the State Council’s Commission on Transport and Ecology suggested that the government consider the possibility of banning all roadstead transshipment outside ports from March 2025. Such changes can be considered for a second reading.

Anastasia Vedeneeva, Natalia Skorlygina

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