Wood Pellets Fuel New South Korea-Russia Container Service


The mid-tier South Korean port of Okgye, on the country’s east coast, has begun piloting a container shipping link with the Russian Far East port of Nakhodka to facilitate wood pellet imports, reports Loadstar.

First container route

Okgye, in Gangneung, Gangwon province, caters primarily to general cargo and multipurpose vessels, although officials there are keen to initiate container shipping connections.

In August, the port saw the launch of its first container route, connecting to Busan and the Japanese ports of Hiroshima, Imabari, Matsuyama, and Fukuyama, operated by Heung-A Line. That service too, caters to Vietnamese wood pellet imports, transhipped to Okgye from Busan.

Last week, during the start of the pilot run, Sinokor Merchant Marine’s 698 teu Vostochny Voyager (pictured above) discharged 50 20ft containers of wood pellets to be used as fuel for South Korean independent producer Gangneung Eco Power’s generator, which opened in October 2022.

South Korea’s largest supplier of wood pellets

This month, two more pilot runs will see 240 20ft containers carrying wood pellets delivered to Okgye, and next month, a regular weekly service connecting Okgye with Nakhodka, Vladivostok, and Busan, operated by Sinokor, will begin. This will add to the pool of Russia-focused services that have emerged in the wake of mainline operators’ decision to withdraw from the sanctioned country.

Gangneung’s officials said efforts were being made to improve Okgye’s infrastructure to attract more box lines and routes. By 2025, a 50,000-tonne berth will be built to handle multipurpose and container cargo.

In April, officials signed a business agreement with Sinokor, Heung-A, and forwarders Sebang and TryHub Korea to initiate liner services to Okgye, hoping to develop the port into a logistics centre in the East Sea region.

Currently, however, logistics costs for companies in Gangwon are nearly double the national average, due to the lack of direct container shipping connections.

Gangneung’s head of port logistics, Kim Heung-yeol, said: “By linking major ports with our hinterland industries, we help to boost their competitiveness while creating jobs in the process.”

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Source: The Loadstar