It may be more profitable to develop year-round navigation on inland waterways in southern Russia than to expect the construction of a lock at the Gorodetsky hydroelectric complex to solve the problem of the Volga shallowing, according to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. To select the option for the development of inland waterways in Russia, it is worth assessing the potential investment and the expected result.
To help the “dying” water transport, you need to choose the most effective way, said Roman Trotsenko, chairman of the subcommittee on sea, river transport and port industry of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
“For us, the greatest gift would not be Gorodets, but year-round navigation in the south of Russia,” he said during a meeting of the subcommittee. It is necessary and possible to start year-round navigation on the Volga-Don Canal. This will make it possible to transport goods by water from the Caspian Sea, then to Astrakhan, Volgograd, then along the Volga-Don Canal with access to the Sea of Azov. There are already engineering solutions to prevent ice formation, such as water mixing systems, Trotsenko said.
The underdevelopment of Russia’s inland waterways restrains the economic development of the regions. In the Volga region, the production of vegetable oil is being developed, but they cannot send goods to the north of the country by river, since there are no necessary depths. As a result, consumers overpay for a product in one part of the country, while producers in another suffer losses due to low prices. Every autumn in the Volga regions the price of high-grade flour falls, as producers cannot export grain and are forced to grind it. In Cherepovets, the production of fertilizers is being developed, but they cannot send goods for export to the Black Sea. Businesses and their employees are losing income. It is also impossible to deliver transit cargo from the Black Sea to the Baltic, representatives of transport companies noted.
They have been trying to solve one of the key problems of river navigation in Russia – the shallowing of the Volga for years. The Middle Volga Territorial Administration of the Federal Agency for Fishery even went to court on the facts of the Volga shallowing due to violation of the rules for the protection of aquatic biological resources. The Ministry of Transport supports the option of building a low-pressure hydroelectric complex near Nizhny Novgorod. But this project is opposed in the Nizhny Novgorod region, fearing flooding. The option of building an additional lock chamber for the already operating Gorodetsky hydroelectric complex is also being considered, as well as deepening the river bottom. Work on the elimination of shallow areas on the Volga from Gorodets to Nizhny Novgorod will begin this year, Deputy Transport Minister Alexander Poshivay reported earlier.
But the additional lock will only increase the throughput of a narrow section of the river, but not the depth, representatives of shipping companies say. That is, heavy-duty vessels will still not be able to pass the problem area. And the construction of the Nizhny Novgorod hydroelectric complex requires about 70 billion rubles. The RUIE doubts that the money will be found quickly.
The development of the southern waterways will be cheaper. At the same time, it will be possible to attract new cargo, including those in transit from Asia, according to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. In addition, the completion of the construction of the Bagaevsky hydroelectric complex will help expand the navigation period in the south.
The Azov-Don waterway carries an average of 12 million tons of cargo per year, and the maximum throughput is 14 million tons. But on this transport artery, two wooden sluices need to be changed.
To study the southern direction in the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, it is necessary to create a working group and order a study for the economic justification of the necessary engineering and technical work and potential cargo flows, Trotsenko noted.