In 2015, the ongoing recession has caused some significant changes in the container market of the Black Sea region. Thus, the fragile de-escalation of the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine resulted in a gradual slowdown in economic decline and production of the country in the third quarter. It is supported by the quarterly dynamics of total container turnover of Ukraine in 2015: in the second quarter it has decreased by 19.93% compared to the first quarter, but in the third quarter it has increased by 10.35% compared to the second quarter. It is worth to note that in 9 months 2015 the total laden container turnover of Ukraine has decreased by 28.38%, compared to the 9 months of 2014.
As for Russia, its main port of the Black Sea region - Novorossiysk showed different results in 9 months of 2015. The quarterly dynamics of Russian total container turnover at the Black Sea was even more negative than in Ukraine: in the first quarter of 2015 it has decreased by 4.25% compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, but in the second and third quarters of 2015 it has decreased by 4.80% and 23.74% compared to the previous period. However, the total laden container turnover of the port of Novorossiysk after 9 months of 2015 has decreased by 15.01%, compared to 9 months of 2014. And it gives more clear understanding of the situation.
In the first 9 months of 2015 compared to the same period of last year, container shipping markets of other countries of the Black Sea region have changed differently. The total container turnover of Romania and Bulgaria has increased by 3.57% and 4.35% respectively, but in Georgia it has decreased by 14.38%. At the same time the total laden container turnover of Georgia has decreased by 10.60%, but in Bulgaria and Romania it has increased by 4.63% and 0.43% respectively.
The formation of a global container shipping alliance between the two world's largest container carriers - MAERSK and MSC, also played its role in the transformation of the container shipping market of the Black Sea region. For example, in Ukraine alliance members moved their volumes to the Ilyichevsk sea fish port terminal instead of the Ilyichevsk sea commercial port terminal, while in Odessa MAERSK moved its volume to the "HPC-Ukraina" terminal instead of "Brooklyn-Kiev Port" terminal.
In Russia, the Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port (NSCP) terminal started to handle the volumes of MAERSK and MSC. In the third quarter of 2015 the NSCP terminal has put new container handling cranes into operation, and as a result, vessel handling time has decreased and affected the overall efficiency of the terminal operations. In November 2015, the NUTEP terminal at the Novorossiysk port began quay expansion scheduled for completion in 2018; it will allow the terminal to handle 8000-1000 TEU vessels.
It should be noted that the geographical distribution of container volumes of the Black Sea region countries has significantly changed in 2015, in particular in Ukraine and Russia. Thus, at the port of Novorossiysk the total laden container turnover with the Far East and Southeast Asia countries has decreased by 34.95%, the North American trade has decreased by 67.23%, the total laden container turnover with Turkey has decreased by 15.96%, but it has grown by 3.88% with the countries of the Middle East.
As for Ukraine, the dynamics of its laden container turnover in the first half of 2015 compared to the second half of 2014 clearly illustrates the country's economic situation. The total laden container turnover of Ukraine with the Far East and Southeast Asia countries has decreased by 29.87%, the European trade has decreased by 24.31% and the South American trade - by 28.66%, while the total laden container turnover with the countries of the Middle East has grown by 8.57%.
There were several significant events in October 2015 affected the container market of the Black Sea region. The 2M Alliance (MSC and MAERSK) announced the termination of direct calls to the Black Sea ports from Southeast Asia due to a significant decrease of freight turnover and freight rates. Another major event was the expansion of the Turkon Line service, which is now represented not only in Romania, but also in Ukraine. A strong position of the company on the transatlantic trade, limited competition and maintained profitability level on this trade will enable it to successfully compete against leading carriers. In its turn, the renewed Mediterranean service will allow Turkon Line to compete leading carriers in the Ukrainian market on the Mediterranean trade.
There are no significant events in the Black Sea container market expected until the end of 2015, so it is forecasted that the total container turnover of the Black Sea region will reach 2.5 million TEU.
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