RIGA - Cargo turnover at Ventspils Port fell 6.5 percent to 9.5 million tons over the first four months of the year as a result of a reduction in potassium salt shipments. Since January, potassium salt handling at Ventspils port has dropped to the lowest level in the last 50 years. In April the port reloaded 70,000 tons of potassium salt, down by some 300,000 tons from April 2005.
Aivars Lembergs, Ventspils mayor and port chairman, told the press on May 8 that two potassium salt mines in Belarus were standing idle at the moment because Belarusian mineral fertilizer producers changed their distributor after the latter lost the Chinese market. Unofficial reports suggest that the Chinese market should open in late May. Still, it won't be possible to recover what had been lost so far. "Regretfully, there is nothing that Ventspils Port can do about it," said Lembergs.
This January-April the port reloaded 2.7 million tons of bulk cargoes, which is a 20 percent drop year-on-year, and 6 million tons of liquid cargoes, down 8 percent, while the amount of general cargoes increased 3 times from four months in 2005 to 810,000 tons. Under the board-approved budget for 2006, annual cargo turnover at the port is planned at 29 million tons. Last year the port, the largest in Latvia, reloaded 29.9 million tons of cargos, which was up 7.3 percent, or 2.1 million tons, year-on-year.