Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 48

According to latest reports from Novorossiisk, port authorities have imposed an "ecological" tax on top of customs taxes on the transshipment of export cargoes including crude oil. Officially intended to finance anti-contamination measures in the oil port, the tax was imposed pursuant to the Krasnodar regional legislature’s law "on payment for the transshipment of foreign cargoes," adopted last December and effective since February. Russia’s Fuel and Energy Ministry has promised foreign companies to contest the decision. At least some of the companies have thus far refused to pay the new tax.

Novorossiisk is the terminal of the pipeline through which Russia seeks to divert Caspian oil due to be extracted by international consortiums in the coming years. Although it is by far the largest Russian oil port on the Black Sea, Novorossiisk’s maximum handling capacity is only 32 to 35 million tons annually, far below the projected Caspian oil output. In recent months, even moderate-force winds often forced the oil port to suspend the loading and unloading of tankers for days at a time.

Tanker traffic from Novorossiisk would have to pass through the Turkish Straits and conform to Turkish safety regulations, which include restrictions against large-capacity tankers. Turkey’s ambassador to Russia in a March 1 statement turned down Russian demands to change the internationally-approved shipping regulations in the Straits. (14)