Transit Service Agency has bee largest importer of Russian cargos to Latvia in past two years - Re:Baltica

  • 2024-04-18
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Transit Service Agency in the past two years has been the largest importer of Russian cargos to Latvia, said Baltic investigative journalism center Re:Baltica.

According to the information published by Re:Baltica,Transit Service Agency imported goods worth a total of USD 334.6 million into Latvia in 2022 and 2023. Transit Service Agency provides services to Liepaja Bulk Terminal, a stevedoring company in the port of Liepaja, whose main business is the transit of grain and other agricultural commodities. The sole owner of the company is Irina Hrapova.

At the same time, data show that the turnover of Transit Service Agency in 2022 was EUR 29.614 million, and the profit - EUR 342,879. The company's financial data for 2023 have not been made public yet.

Further down the list are Ventspils Grain Terminal, which imported goods worth USD 87.538 million, Swiss-registered Vitol - USD 81.523 million, Swiss-registered West & Ost Energy - USD 80.478 million, Latvijas Propana Gaze - USD 67.56 million, Compass Transit, whose ownership structure consists of people at the management and shareholder level of BluOr Bank - USD 41.923 million, Ovi - USD 39.653 million, Rigas Oglu Terminalis - USD 38.097 million, Cypriot-registered Intergaz - USD 31.136 million, Alpha Osta - USD 28.832 million and Hong-Kong-registered Nord Axis Limited and Bellatrix Energy - USD 26.896 million and USD 26.001 million respectively.

The publication also mentions Cargo Concept, Estonian-registered Keystone Shipping, DG Terminals, Swiss-registered Gunvor, Lithuanian-registered Ekspogrudas, and Cypriot-registered Espentina among the largest importers from Russia in the last two years.

Re:Baltica learned from representatives of Latvijas Propana Gaze that it imports liquified natural gas (LNG) from Russia and only 28 percent of it stays in Latvia - the rest is transported to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine. It refused to specify the Russian refineries from which it buys the product, but added that it is trying to buy more from the Mazeikiai refinery and is evaluating alternatives for supplies from Kazakhstan, Norway, the US, as well as tanker transport.

The company also noted that in December 2024, an EU ban on LNG imports will come into force (previously only gas bottles were banned). At that point, they will also stop their cooperation with Russia and hope to compensate with LNG from Kazakhstan, the first batch of which they hope to import this month.

"The main problem is that it is not yet possible to replace the volumes of Russian oil gas. But we suggest you, as a journalist, to check with the Latvian government on the question of a complete withdrawal from cooperation with Russia on the transit issue," the company wrote. "Ending cooperation with Russia means denying the possibility of transit on the Russian railway, which also carries goods from Kazakhstan, China and other countries." This would lead to a shortage of petroleum gas in the Latvian economy, which in turn would cause problems for the grain dryers that run on petroleum gas in the summer and autumn. This could be compensated by tanker deliveries, but it would not happen so fast. Therefore, possibility of cooperating with Russia to maintain rail transit should be discussed.

Meanwhile, Mikelis Lapse, board chairman of Rigas Oglu Terminals (ROT), indirectly controlled by families of oligarchs Andris Skele and Ainars Slesers, pointed out that the company does not import goods and raw materials from Russia as coal and petroleum coke have been on the sanctions list since Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine. It has no contracts with either Russian or Belarusian companies. Appearance of the company on the list of major importers is due to the fact that Russian customs declarations also show transit cargoes, for example, from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which pass through Baltic ports to destinations all over the world.

In 2022 and 2023, ROT's main business was coal from the US, Colombia, South Africa and Kazakhstan, which is mainly shipped to Poland and other European countries, and manganese ore from Gabon and South Africa, which is delivered by freight forwarders to Russian factories for the production of iron alloys. However, the volume of the latter is also falling and last year accounted for a quarter of the ROT's cargos.

"ROT's customers are various international forwarding, logistics and trading companies. We do not have direct contracts with cargo owners and buyers," Lapse told Re:Baltica