The marine logistics complex of the ports of the Odessa agglomeration is the largest in the post-Soviet space. A significant part of the cargo flows of the 7th International Transport Corridor (ITC 7) passes through the “big Odessa”, connecting European markets with the Caucasus, Central Asia, China, the Far East, Siberia, and ITC 9 – with Scandinavia, Northern Europe and European Russia in northern extremity and the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula – in the south.

The importance of the Odessa port agglomeration in the transport system of Ukraine determines the urgent need to solve problems that impede the dynamic and free development of port infrastructure.

The relevance of solving infrastructure problems

The oldest in the agglomeration Odessa Commercial Sea Port has been experiencing a shortage of territories over the past decades, which is caused by the location of this intensively operating transport hub in dense urban development. This complicates the development of terminals and the optimization of the transport and logistics infrastructure of the port, leading to conflicts with the city administration and the environmental community.

The existing boundaries of the water area and the existing plan of the berths of the port of Odessa meet modern requirements for cargo handling with increasing difficulty. In particular, the limited water area and the location of the cruise and tourist infrastructure of the port between cargo berths impose restrictions on the handling of dangerous and bulk cargoes and increase the cost of these operations.

The high cost of constructive and infrastructure solutions associated with territorial problems, the remoteness of warehouse territories from berths worsen the flexibility of logistics schemes and, as a result, reduce the profitability and competitiveness of Odessa Port services.

The positions of the port “Big Odessa” are held largely due to the potential of the ports of Ilyichevsk and Yuzhny. However, following the post-crisis revival of the world economy, “growth problems” will inevitably affect these powerful satellites of Odessa – they are located in small estuaries, where the entire free coastline has practically already been allocated for development.

One of the most acute transport problems of the Odessa port agglomeration is the discrepancy between the speed of cargo handling of the ports of Odessa and Ilyichevsk and the insufficient capacity of the railway stations serving them, reaching 39% and 45%, respectively. Squeezed by urban development and the road network, the Odessa-Port station is completely devoid of the possibility of expansion.

To a large extent, due to these factors, the Odessa group of ports is losing cargo flows passing to competitors. In order for Odessa to remain competitive in the struggle for cargo flows of ITC 7, and in order not to lose ground in the North-South direction (ITC 9), a radical solution is needed to urgent infrastructural, territorial and logistical problems of the main port of Ukraine.

Terminals in Khadzhibey Estuary

The essence of our proposals is to ensure the development of the port of Odessa in the protected water area of the Khadzhibey estuary and in the territories surrounding it, with the laying of the navigation channel “Khadzhibey estuary – the Black Sea”.

The morphometric characteristics of the Khadzhibey Estuary are favorable for port construction:

  • the elevations of the bottom of the estuary (from zero BS) in large areas reach minus 12–14 meters (with a minimum mark – minus 16.3 m);
  • water area – about 10 thousand hectares;
  • the average width in the southern part is 2.7 km, in the northern part – up to 2 km;
  • the length of the estuary along the main axis is about 40 km, the length of the coastline free from development on the eastern coast is about 23 km, the length of the western coastline is 12 km (without Paliyovsky Bay).

The following plan evaluates the areas of the coast of the estuary, free from development, having access to the river’s edge, and compares the prospective water area of the estuary with the port water areas of the Odessa agglomeration. The plan clearly shows that the Khadzhibey Estuary ensures the development of the Odessa port for the foreseeable historical perspective.

Although the Khadzhibey Estuary is not the only deep-sea coastal water body in the region, its proximity to the developed transport network converging to Odessa and the numerous qualified labor resources of the Odessa agglomeration completes the picture of the unambiguous choice of this water area for promising port development.

Engineering and geological advantages

Based on the experience of building the ports of Ilyichevsk and Yuzhny, it can be assumed that dredging on silty soils (approximately 70% of the natural basins of the Dniester-Dnieper group of estuaries, including Khadzhibeysky) is neither expensive nor technically complex. Taking into account the significant depths of the Khadzhibey estuary, the cost of dredging when placing the port infrastructure can be estimated as minimal.

Due to the lack of the need for protection from sea waves, the unit cost of building hydraulic structures in the estuary is an order of magnitude lower than in the waters of the Odessa Bay.

The situation with depth stability is also favorable – sediment accumulation in the Khadzhibey estuary over the past 100 years has amounted to only 10 cm. Thus, one of the advantages of the proposal is low costs for the construction of hydraulic structures and maintaining the depths of the future port water areas of the Khadzhibey estuary.

Transport links

The prospects for the development of the port in the Khadzhibey Estuary are also determined by its favorable location along the Odessa-Kyiv-Gomel-Vitebsk-Pskov-St. Petersburg highway and the Odessa-Razdelnaya railway line. Short connections to these critical highways are one of the main components of the high capacity of future terminals.

Additional advantages of the port infrastructure of the Khadzhibey Estuary are given by the prospect of building the Black Sea Ring Highway. It is designed to effectively connect major transport hubs and ports of the countries of the region.

The route of the Black Sea Highway crosses the Khadzhibey Estuary and is in close proximity to the proposed water area for the development of the port.

The main railway line for Odessa to Razdelnaya runs along the western coast of the Khadzhibey estuary. However, even if the port terminals are located on the east coast, it provides enough territory for laying a new railway line and locating infrastructure for servicing and storing rolling stock.

So, located at the intersection of existing and prospective transport routes and having large undeveloped areas, the coast of the Khadzhibey Estuary provides ample opportunities for the development of an efficient logistics infrastructure.

Shipping canal “Khadzhibey estuary – Black Sea”

The proposed option for laying the channel affects the minimum number of existing buildings and passes outside the territories involved in the production cycle of operating enterprises.

The recommended entry point of the canal into the body of the Kuyalnitsko-Khadzhibey bay-bar is located on the territory of the meat-packing plant that is not currently operating. Further, the route crosses the streets of the Black Sea Cossacks and Ataman Golovaty and the warehouse territories of the Red Guard plant located between them, which have not been observed for more than 10 years. After that, the canal passes through the territory of a non-working container plant. The eastern fork of the Odessa-Peresyp station, about 10 private houses along the street, falls into the spot of the canal. Ataman Chepigi and the hard-surfaced territory belonging to the oil storage facility (the main technological facilities of the latter are not affected).

Three-quarters of the way the canal passes through the undeveloped territory of filtration fields.
The main obstacles are roads and railways. They need to be lifted onto overpasses. At the same time, only the trestle option for laying roads in Peresyp can really effectively solve the problems of almost daily “traffic jams” and periodic flooding of roads in this area. At the same time, even taking into account the construction of overpasses, the efficiency of investments in the construction of a canal that opens up the promising water area of the Khadzhibey Estuary is many times higher than investment in the expansion of the port in the Odessa Bay.

The variant of the navigable connection of the Khadzhibey estuary with the Black Sea, illustrated on the plan, suggests:

  • laying a channel through the body of the bay-bar with a length of 2.43 nautical miles;
  • dredging in the offshore approach channel;
  • construction of protective rock-fill spurs up to the isobath – 5 m, each 700 m long.

A significant part of the work on laying the canal through the Peresyp can be carried out by ground equipment, which will also lead to savings in construction funds.

A serious cost item for the construction of the approach channel is the construction of fencing spurs. Proximity to Odessa of granite quarries makes it possible to reduce the cost of their construction through the use of rock-throw construction – effective and inexpensive.

The current absence in the area of the proposed canal outlet to the sea (46°31’N 30°44’E) of the alongshore sediment flow (which once formed the Kuyalnitsko-Khadzhibey bay-bar and is now blocked by the protective structures of the city and port) allows us to say that the volume of repair scooping here should be significantly less than in the approach channels of the ports of Ilyichevsk and Yuzhny, located in the area of the current sediment movement.

Environmental aspects

The state of the closed water area of the Khadzhibey estuary now does not meet not only the conditions of economic use, but also sanitary standards.

Thanks to the navigable canal, the frequency of water exchange in the water area of the Khadzhibey estuary and its ecological state will radically improve – this important water body will be able to be rehabilitated.

The water discharge schedule should be distributed in time so that the sea ecosystem has time to “recycle” the polluted waters of the estuary without negative consequences. Descents can be made in the winter period during the wind events with calculations of the parameters of the outflow and mixing of the waters.

As a result of connection with the Khadzhibey estuary and its rehabilitation, the Black Sea ecosystem will receive a significant area for spawning of marine ichthyofauna, in particular, valuable commercial fish that have long disappeared from our waters due to the lack of spawning grounds in the estuaries separated from the sea.

Elimination of the threat of flooding Peresyp

The dam of the Khadzhibey estuary was strengthened many times, each time urgently with the next threat of flooding, its condition cannot be assessed as safe.

The volume of water that can flood low-lying areas in the event of a dam break is estimated at more than 150 million m3. Up to 2,500 hectares and about 50,000 inhabitants are under the threat of flooding.
The construction of the canal and the lowering of the level of the Khadzhibey estuary to the sea level are the only measures that will permanently eliminate the risk of catastrophic flooding with its social, environmental and economic consequences.

Thus, the development of port terminals in the Khadzhibey Estuary and the construction of a navigable canal will be able to help resolve acute environmental and economic problems and fundamentally solve the problems of developing the Odessa port, which will receive a deep-sea protected water area in close proximity to the most important land transport highways.

Velemir ZIZAK,
academician of The Transport Academy of Ukraine
integrated coastal zone management specialist

By editor