By Maria Kolesnikova
OAO Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port, Russia's largest harbor, may boost capacity at its grain terminal after shipments almost doubled in August from a year earlier.
Expansion at the Black Sea port, which handles about 20 percent of Russian seaborne trade, would add to the extra 550,000 metric tons of monthly grain capacity opened in September 2007.
The nation is reaping a harvest of at least 95 million tons, the best in 15 years, the Agriculture Ministry says. Russia aims to lift output 50 percent in 5 to 7 years.
We will review increasing the capacity of our grain terminal after this season,'' Mikhail Petrenko, director of the facility, said in an interview yesterday. ``Everything looks like Russia is again going to become one of the top grain exporters, and we welcome it.''
Novorossiysk lifted shipments 91 percent to 1.03 million tons of grain in August after duties that curbed exports expired.
The grain facility has contracts through the end of the marketing year that ends in June, Petrenko said. The port expects to ship between 8 and 8.5 million tons of grain annually.
Exports will be sustained after the ``peak season'' through November, continuing into May because of the bigger harvests, Petrenko said.
Grain shipments fell 52 percent in the first six months of the year after the government imposed an export duty of 105 euros ($166) a ton of wheat to help curb gains in local food prices.
Novorossiysk delivered transit shipments of Kazakh grain to countries including Jordan and Egypt to compensate for the duty on exports of domestic wheat, Petrenko said.
Hundreds of Trucks
After the charge expired in July, a backlog of hundreds of grain trucks blocked roads to Novorossiysk waiting to unload.
We eliminated this problem in early August by opening a special facility where trucks are registered and wait for unloading,'' Petrenko said. About 30 percent of grain loaded at the terminal arrives by truck and the rest by railroad.
Russia's total port capacity for exports stands at about 15 million to 18 million tons a year, according to the Grain Union, which represents the country's biggest producers and traders.