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2020 January 17

Sergey Gaidayev: “Construction of Bagayevsky hydrosystem does not hinder navigation”

Sergey Gaidayev, head of Azov-Don Basin Administration, tells IAA PortNws about the 2019 navigation results and the progress of the Bagayevsky hydrosystem project implementation.

— Mr Gaidayev, congratulations on successful completion of the navigation season in the basin. Could you please share the 2019 navigation results.

— Thank you! Navigation in the Azov-Don Basin of Russia’s inland water ways was closed on 11 December 2019 with the last loaded ship, the Baltiysky-111, having left the basin at 13-30, Moscow time on 11 December 2019. Transit navigation was closed a little bit earlier – on November 27.

In the 2019 navigation season, cargo traffic within the Azov-Don Basin of Russia’s IWW totaled 9.851 million tonnes, which is 6.5% less than in 2018. Transit cargo transportation totaled 8.524 million tonnes, 98% of the 2018 result.

The number of calls within the basin totaled 6,096, 1.4% less year-on-year, including 2,989 vessels going downwards and 3,107 vessels going downwards. Dry cargo fleet numbering 2,698 units accounted for 44.3% of the total cargo flow. The fleet of oil tankers numbered 2,598 units (42.6% of the cargo flow) with passenger and towing fleets numbering 467 and 333 units (7.7% and 5.4% accordingly).

— What were the key cargoes in the Azov-Don Basin? Has the traditional cargo mix changed?

— In 2019, the bulk of cargo traffic was made by heavy fuel oil (2.738 million tonnes; + 3.4% year-on-year), sulphur (1.559 million tonnes; + 210.6%) and wheat (1.108 million tonnes; - 47.8%).

The transit cargo mix was formed mainly by oil products (5.126 million tonnes, or 52%), grain and agricultural products (1.620 million tonnes, or 16.4%) and sulphur (1.559 million tonnes, or 15.8%).

New cargo flow, palm oil from Turkey to the port of Saratov, totaled 73,000 tonnes.

— What caused the decrease of total turnover of vessels and cargo in 2019?

— Driven by an increased demand and favorable price policy, grain cargo flows were redirected to the Caspian Sea in 2019. The price of this year grain crop was not high and satisfying for agricultural producers. After the winter storage period, spring transportation of grain is to resume at prices good for all parties of the transportation process.

The fleet of Navigator LLC was partially involved in transportation of oil products both southwards and to the North-West.

One more essential factor to affect transportation of oil products was the completion of shipments from some refineries in early November when they commenced preparations for maintenance and repair works.

— Were there any problems caused by the water level?

— Although the water level of 2019 was below normal, it was not a problem to ensure navigational safety.

— What was the scope of dredging works performed in 2019?

— Dredging operations were conducted between June 1 and October 1, 2019. The amount of dredged material, 1,366,500 cubic meters, slightly exceeded the plan.

— What are the results of port control in the Azov-Don Basin in 2019?

—704 ship inspection operations were performed as part of port state control in 2019. In the reporting period, inspectors revealed 2,673 violations with 664 instructions issued to rectify discovered violations. Operation of 49 ships was suspended.

All 10 incidents registered throughout the reported period were caused by a navigation mistake.

— What are the most challenging sections for navigation?

— The most challenging navigation conditions are those between the Kochetovsky hydrosystem and the Razdorskaya village (3,030th km of the Don river) with its sharp bends an currents.

— Tell about the progress of the Bagayevsky hydrosystem project aimed at addressing the problem of low water level in the Azov-Don Basin. What works were performed in 2019?

— The Bagayevsky hydrosystem construction consists of two phases. The first one comprising the preparation works commenced in April 2018 and included the construction of a navigable cutoff for shifting the fairway for the period of operations, material offloading facility, temporary power line as well as land reclamation for administrative buildings and structures of the yet-to-be-built hydrosystem.

The works were limited between March 1 and September 31, the season of spawning and downstream migration of baby fish. Those measures are foreseen for the minimization of the impact on environment and aquatic biological resources.

In view of the above-mentioned factors and unfavorable weather conditions, full-scale dredging commenced only in December 2018 – January 2019. Upon completion of the spawning season and obtaining of the approval from the local fishery authorities, the works were resumed and completed by today.

The birth built will be used for unloading of equipment and materials during the second phase of the project. The temporary power line will supply the facilities involved during the main construction phase.

Thus, all the key construction works have been completed.

— Are there any compensatory measures and environmental exposure controls?

— Surely. A package of environmental protection measures was foreseen in the framework of the first phase. According to the resolution of the Azov-Black Sea Department of Rosrybolovstvo (Russian Federal Fisheries Agency), baby fish of commercial species is to be released in the water area of the Don river, environmental monitoring involving an independent laboratory is to be conducted on a weekly basis. The monitoring confirms the compliance of construction works with the environmental regulations.

— How have the shipping conditions changed with the Bagayevsky hydrosystem construction? How was the passage of ships arranged?

— There was a good reason to select the Arpachinsky island as the construction site. Construction of the main waterfront facilities of the gates will be performed on the island and in the navigable channel (the right one) of the Don river. Therefore, the key task of the first phase was to prepare the non-navigable channel (the left one) for the passage of ships and flood waters in spring.

The general contractor was busy with dredging works from the beginning of 2019. As early as in April the ships used the new 80-meter long and 4-meter deep channel to proceed to the Tsymlyansky water storage basin.

That was crucial for ensuring navigation during the land reclamation on the right bank.

The works continued after the spawning period. In September, the dimensions of the cutoff were sufficient for safe passage of ships and the vessel traffic was shifted to the left arm allowing for land reclamation on the right bank.

Those dredging operations have been completed by now. In the result, we have obtained both the navigable channel for safe shipping and the waterway sufficient for passage of water during the flood season.

In navigation season of 2019, there were no problems with the passage of transit fleet in the area of the Bagayevsky hydrosystem construction.

— What works under Bagayevsky hydrosystem project planned for 2020?

— In 2020, it is planned to complete all operations on construction of preliminary phase facilities and commence the main phase operations. Among them the construction of the shipping lock, the overflow dam, the earthen dam, the fish-passing facilities, the spawning channel for unhampered passage of fish during the spawning season.

Later, the contractor will perform dredging works and build a cutoff to ensure required dimensions of the passage, build facilities for production, technical, auxiliary and accommodation purposes.

The Bagayevsky hydrosystem project is to be completed in 2023.

— What repair works are planned for the internavigation period to prepare for the navigation season of 2020?

— For a timely opening of the 2020 navigation season and introduction of deployment of the core ships without delay, Azov-Don Basin Administration is to perform repair of 29 units and interim overhaul of 12 units. The bulk of repair works will be conducted at the company’s own cost at the Konstantinovskaya base. For some works ADBA will involve third-party contractors.

Besides, internavigation works will include inspection and repair of gate mechanisms, slopes of navigation chambers and protection embankments, electric motors, magnets and sensors of local control panels.

Repair of underwater elements is planned at the hydrosystem unit No 2 on the Seversky Donets river.

Interviewed by Elena Tkacheva.