NIBULON Demonstrated the Work of Its Unique Vessel Capable of Deepening the Rocky Bottom of the Dnipro River

NIBULON demonstrated the work of its unique vessel capable of deepening the rocky bottom of the Dnipro RiverNIBULON, the Ukrainian agrarian market leader, leading shipbuilder, owner of the largest modern private cargo fleet, carried out experimental work to deepen the rocky bottom on one of the Dnipro rapids in Kamianske town (Dnipropetrovsk region).

The works on the Dniprodzerzhynsk sluice gates were carried out with the help of MYKOLAIVETS vessel built by NIBULON at its own shipbuilding and repair yard.

According to General Director of NIBULON, Hero of Ukraine Oleksiy Vadaturskyy, the navigable pass in the area of Kamianske  is one of the most difficult and dangerous passes for navigation through its  rocks at the river bottom. During the Soviet period they were blown up with dynamite. Today, this method of dredging is impossible as there is a metallurgical plant, other complex production facilities, storage facilities and dams on the shore. Explosions can cause emergencies in the production, disable technological lines. In addition, they negatively affect the environment, in particular the fauna of the water area.

“Ukraine has committed itself to the European Union to maintain the depth of the E-40 navigable waterway from the mouth of the Dnipro River to Kyiv at 3.65 m. At present, the depth is 3.2 m, in particular through the rocky bottom in the area from Kremenchuk to Zaporizhzhia; there are about 14 such “gates” “, noted Yevhen Bachev, deputy head of Ukrvodshliakh SE. This state enterprise is responsible for maintaining the working depth of navigable passes of the key rivers of Ukraine.

According to Oleksiy Vadaturskyy, because of inadequate depth, NIBULON and other companies – shipowners and carriers – are forced to neglect the tonnage capacity of their own vessels.  “Our vessels of 4 thousand tons are underloaded by about 30%, and this a significant loss during transportation downstream and upstream, a rise in the freight expenses. The vessels are loaded to the full load below all the rapids, beyond Zaporizhzhia, and move towards the Black Sea”, said Oleksiy Vadaturskyy.

According to Yevhen Bachev, Ukrvodshliakh hasn’t financing to perform dredging, neither has it its own equipment for this. Therefore, NIBULON was involved in order to perform experimental dredging of rocks and to calculate its real cost.

The choice of Kamianske water area for these purposes is symbolic. First of all, this is the most dangerous place on the river (there is not only rocky bottom, but also the turn of the navigable pass). Secondly, 10 years ago, in 2007, the cruise ship Dnieper Princess with over 200 German passengers on board was stranded after getting a hole here.

Oleksiy Vadaturskyy noted that the company and Ukrvodshliakh have spent 5 years to receive tens of permits required to perform dredging according to the company’s project. At first, it was planned to find the necessary dredger in Europe or in the CIS. But we decided to build a vessel at our own shipbuilding and repair yard. The cost of the project (a dredger plus to self-propelled pontoons) was USD 14 million, and it was financed by the International Finance Corporation.

The experiment in Kamianske will allow us to check the technical capabilities of the new vessel and to determine the real cost of crushing 1 cubic meter of rocks, so that Ukrvodshliakh could announce a tender to deepen all the problematic areas of the Dnipro River. In total, within the experiment NIBULON deepened the area of 15 meter wide and 50 meters long (area of 750 square meters) to a depth of about 40 cm at its own expense. The company managed to process the area of 600 square meters in a week. It is possible to perform complex of dredging work on all 14 problematic areas of the Dnipro River within six months. Oleksiy Vadaturskyy calculated that the Dnipro River from the lower reaches to Kyiv will have its theoretical depth of 3.65 m that was declared by Ukraine.

“This is a unique event because the first Ukrainian vessel built of Ukrainian metal, developed by Ukrainian designers, where Ukrainians work, is performing the work that have never been conducted on the Dnipro River before. We say that there is no need to look for foreign companies, Chinese, Belgians, Dutch, etc. We, the Ukrainians, are capable of doing this on our own”, stressed Oleksiy Vadaturskyy.

The length of the problematic areas, where it is necessary to crush rocks, is about 47 km. According to Ukrvodshliakh and NIBULON’s specialists, it is necessary to remove 20 thousand cubic meters of rocks from the bottom. The crushed rocks will be used to strengthen the banks of the Dnipro River along the coastline of Kamianske town and its environs.

According to Oleksiy Vadaturskyy, dredging in the next few years will enable one to increase cargo transportation along the Dnipro River: from today’s 3-4 million tons to 10-15 million tons per year, and in the medium term, along with the intensification of economic development and interstate transportation, return to the best rates of the Soviet period (60 million tons per year).

The company has already dredged the Southern Buh River at its own expense. In 2018, it plans to bring the working depth of the waterway to 2.4 m, resulting in a possibility to load vessels operating on the river to their full load.  

After the cost of dredging is determined and if the funding is available, Ukrvodshliakh plans to announce tender for dredging operations in the area of the rocky area. NIBULON also plans to participate in this tender. “We are convinced that we can offer the best price for this service, since we do not need to transport fleet from Europe and we have our own modern hydraulic hammer capable of operating in fast flow conditions and with such rocks.  It is not only a modern but also environmentally friendly way of dredging”, said Oleksiy Vadaturskyy. 

However, according to him, the government is still not very enthusiastic about the idea to perform dredging. “Only Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman is sincerely interested in our project. He visited our shipyard, he saw the technologies we have planned to use to build this unique vessel. He also knows about our experimental works and supports it. However, we do not feel any support of other ministries, in particular of Ministry of Infrastructure, which should deal with such projects. We face the opposition and even groundless accusations of alleged attempts to monopolize the Dnipro River. How can we explain to the Minister that if NIBULON performs dredging, we will not put a barrier and will not forbid other entities to use the river. Perhaps, wouldn’t the vessels, including foreign ones, intensify transportation along the Dnipro River, if the freight policy is improved?”, stressed NIBULON’s General Director.

According to him, unlike the executive branch of Ukraine, governments of other states are keenly interested in the opportunity to use the unique experience and capabilities of NIBULON to solve similar problems on their rivers. In particular, the governments of Belarus, Turkey and Egypt have already shown interest in work of MYKOLAIVETS.

“Do not believe the Minister of Infrastructure that river transport is more profitable than rail transport. Otherwise, why then there are no other entities on the river, if it is more profitable?” noted Oleksiy Vadaturskyy.

The excise tax, which is the highest in the world, is the main problem of shipowners and carriers. At present, the tax is EUR 139.5 per one ton of fuel and it comprises about 30% of its cost. It does not exist in Europe, and it is twice lower in the USA. In addition, the vessel call at ports of Kherson and Mykolaiv is the most expensive one in the world.  Moreover, the law No. 2475a “On inland water transport”, Minister of Infrastructure promotes so much, provides for the introduction of the river due. That is why there is no transportation along the Dnipro River.

The Ministry frightens the public with anthropogenic disasters at locks, lack of funds for dredging etc, but at the same time it lobbies for the creation of another authority – Inland Water Transport Authority.

“But in this situation we do not need populism but real actions: to reduce the port charges by USD 1 in Mykolaiv and Kherson ports. USD 0.5 to address the infrastructure issues of Mykolaiv, Kherson and other cities on the Dnipro River, and USD 0.5 to repair locks and to perform dredging. There is no need in a new law to this end; it is enough to get the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine”, said NIBULON’s General Director. 

“With our constructive and well-reasoned example, we push the Ministry to certain actions.  At the same time, we do not pursue the corporate interests; we advocate existence of tens of such companies as ours. We are against the populism of officials. We are for their actions”, said Oleksiy Vadaturskyy.

Thus, having performed the experimental dredging on the Dnipro River, NIBULON demonstrated that revival of navigation on the Dnipro River is an urgent necessity, and the problems can be successfully and effectively solved. Moreover, the development of river navigation has a positive impact not only on the transport map of Ukraine but also the economy of the country as a whole.

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