These ships can only call in such numbers due to the port’s expansion on Vasilievsky Island at the Neva River's mouth, four miles west of the city – developed in partnership by the St Petersburg City Administration - Marine Facade Management Company. Recent developments at a site nearby indicate that the port’s attractions for the cruise industry are rapidly emerging as adding up to more than heritage and new wharfs.
June 8 alone saw 17,911 passengers on board six vessels in a single day, breaking a record set two years ago when 14,568 passed through the port. Seasonal Baltic callers have included such high-profile cruisers as Norwegian Getaway, MSC Fantasia, Regal Princess, and the RCI pair Vision of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas. This year, the port city will attract more than 240 ship calls and 540,000 passengers – this, too, will be a record.
Within the broad spectrum of Russian sea and river cruise perspectives, the future of these developments will be discussed by the Russian Chamber of Shipping and Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime & Inland Shipping during NEVA 2017, the 14th International Maritime Exhibition and Conferences of Russia in St Petersburg 19 – 22 September this year. The historical International panel discussion for “The Development of Sea and Inland Waterways Cruise Shipping” takes place on 20 September during the NEVA 2017 Programme, with official support from the Russian Federation Ministry of Transport.
At a time when the major shipowners in the sector seek ways to make use of less-polluting liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel, LNG Gorskaya is close to completing Phase 1 of its plans to produce LNG in St Petersburg. The Gazprom-backed entity intend to distribute its first LNG around the Gulf of Finland before the end of 2017, and its plans will certainly provide a focus at NEVA 2017.
Work is now progressing on the completion of LNG Gorskaya’s Phase 1 floating production plant, which will have annual processing capacity of 656 million m3. Initial production will be distributed using three purpose-built, 7,000m3 capacity bunkering barges. Phase 2 developments will follow by 2019, adding a second production facility of similar capacity, with the third to be added in 2021. Overall capacity corresponds to the production of 1.26 million tons of LNG.
Gorskaya has made it clear that its sphere of LNG bunkering influence will not be limited to cruise, with deals already signed to finance construction of LNG bunkering centres in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Sweden, Finland and, in June 2017, at Grenaa Havn in Denmark.
However, St Petersburg has placed itself at the head of the queue, after the Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg Marine Façade organisation signed a deal for LNG Gorskaya to provide infrastructure for cruise ship/ferry bunkering, and begin supplies from January 1, 2018. Gorskaya will also supply a dedicated bunker vessel to the port for the purpose by 2019.