The Freeport of Riga Authority has started the navigation canal cleaning project to accommodate capesize vessels (load capacity above 150,000 tons) at the Port of Riga already in the near future. Vessels of such size are not currently serviced in ports situated on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and therefore this is an opportunity that would bring substantial market advantages for the City of Riga not only compared to the ports of the Baltic States, but also the ports of Russia.
“Globally, even larger vessels are used for cargo transportation by sea. The aim of carriers to reduce transportation costs is the main cause for the continuously increasing dimensions of vessels. This is especially important for bulk cargo, for example, in the segment of coal and metal ore where the use of larger vessels ensures a more economical freight rate per each transported ton. The ability to accommodate the large capesize class vessels would facilitate access to new cargoes and more distant markets compared to the current options while using Panamax vessels, thereby also contributing to increased cargo turnover,” said Ansis Zelti?š, CEO of the Freeport of Riga Authority.
Due to the large dimensions and draught capesize vessels can be accommodated only by the largest deep-sea ports and specially equipped terminals. Modern land-based infrastructure is currently available at the Port of Riga to accommodate large bulk carriers, whereas to ensure safe accommodation of capesize vessels it is necessary to clean the main navigation canal near the port access gate and the navigation canal opposite to Krievu Island.
Based on the information summarised by the Freeport of Riga Authority and port merchants, in 2019, more than 30 million tons of coal were shipped out with Panamax vessels from ports situated on the east coast of the Baltic Sea to markets outside Europe, e.g., Asia, South America, and the Middle East which already are servicing capesize vessels. With the capacity to accommodate such vessels in Riga, the Port could compete for a part of such cargo volume.
The load capacity of capesize vessels is above 150,000 tons. Vessels of such size are currently used mostly for the purpose of transporting coal and various metal ores. The name of the vessel derives from the word ‘cape’, i.e., ‘headland’. Large vessels were named capesize vessels because they were too large to pass through the Suez Canal or Panama Canal. These vessels had to pass either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn to traverse between oceans.