SUEK and EuroChem do not want to be a captive carrier

The National Transport Company (STC), established in the fall of 2020 on the basis of SUEK’s and Eurochem’s assets Andrei Melnichenko, plans to develop at the expense of other orders, getting rid of the status of a captive operator, STC CEO Mikhail Kuznetsov told reporters. According to him, in the coming years the company plans to increase the share of other orders to 50%. Now their share does not exceed 20 percent in the structure of the company’s transportation by rail. They occupy about the same percentage in NTK’s revenue.

In the first quarter of 2021 (no later data), the company transported 23 million tons of various cargoes, which is 7.5% more than in the same period in 2020 in terms of assets of SUEK and “Eurochem” before their transfer to NTK . Cargo handling in NTC ports in the first quarter of this year amounted to 13.6 million tons (8.4%).

In addition, in the next three years, NTC wants to start providing a multimodal turnkey service using rail and sea transport, as well as its own port infrastructure. According to Kuznetsov, the issue is the transportation of coal and other raw materials on the routes Kuzbass – Rotterdam, Kuzbass – India and others. To this end, STC intends to develop partnerships with other stevedores who have “skills and competencies” in the field of maritime transport and invest in the further development of its own port facilities.

Six sea terminals have been transferred to the STC: the Murmansk Sea Commercial Port, Daltransvugal (DTU) in Vanino, the bulk terminals in Tuapse, Nakhodka and Murmansk, and the port of Silamäe in Estonia. The total cargo turnover of these ports in 2020 amounted to 53 million tons. The largest project is to increase the capacity of the coal terminal DTV from 24 million to 40 million tons per year until 2024 (in 2019, investments were estimated at 12 billion rubles.) . NTC will also project a new bulk terminal in Ust-Luga with a commissioning of up to 7 million tons per year in 2024, which originally belonged to Eurochem.

The company plans to transport goods not only under long-term service contracts, but also under spot contracts, Kuznetsov added.

Today NTK ranks 4th among Russian railway operators in terms of car fleet size. The company manages more than 51,100 gondola cars and 4,200 mineral locomotives, and also has a car repair depot in Nevinnomyssk.

STC buys innovative cars for transportation (increased capacity) and considers it its competitive advantage, said Kuznetsov. He did not name the exact number of new innovative cars that the company will receive, but clarified to Vedomosti that it is a fleet of up to 20,000 units.

Experts believe that the company’s strategy to abandon the model of captive operator SUEK and “Eurochem” may take longer than stated.

Pavel Ivankin, President of the National Center for Transportation and Infrastructure, noted that the shareholder of NTK is trying to reduce the cost of transporting its goods by increasing the operator’s cargo base. “On the one hand, there is a surplus of car fleet on the market today, which complicates the issue of concentration of the cargo base. On the other hand, NTC has a valuable asset – seaports. And this, indeed, can allow to create multimodal transport chains, “he told Vedomosti.

STC should be ready “for high competition” in the global transport market, said a leading expert of the “Fin Management” Dmitry Baranov. “Nobody will give up their share just like that. It may take several years to reach 50% of other loads. This time will be needed to develop routes for other companies, fully work out the scheme of transportation and reach a competitive price, ”the expert said. He added that during the struggle for the global market the company will have to continue to transport the goods of SUEK and EuroChem, its main customers, “qualitatively and on time”. This will create additional difficulties in the process of increasing the share of other cargoes, he believes.

Ivankin agrees that the projected timing of enlargement is very optimistic: “By 2024, most likely, will be able to attract [сторонних грузов в общей структуре перевозок] 25 percent, ”he said. Baranov, in turn, added that the service of multimodal turnkey transportation may be of interest to shippers, but only if the STC can offer a competitive price. In addition, to deliver the goods to the final consumer (to the door), in his opinion, companies will have to attract as partners of road carriers or create their own car company.

Mikhail Burmistrov, CEO of Infoline-Analytics, believes that the goal of achieving a 50% share of other customers looks very ambitious, especially in the face of a shortage of gondola cars. At the same time, in his opinion, the company has a serious potential, in particular, to increase the profitability of the park by abandoning the simple looped logistics schemes with empty return of gondola cars and the formation of more complex logistics. For example, on the shoulder between Kuzbass and the port of Murmansk is cost-effective supply of gondola cars from the port to Karelia, loading there by rubble and transportation to the Moscow region, and only then an empty flight to Kuzbass, said Burmistrov. From January 1, 2022, special tariff schemes for payment of empty mileage of innovative cars have been replaced by a discount for loaded mileage. In this situation, the transition to more complex logistics schemes becomes particularly relevant, says the expert.

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