Prospects of the Maritime corridor: an interview with the director of the TEUS Dmytro Kazanin
The full-scale war certainly affected the export of goods by water transport. How stable is the situation today? Who on the geopolitical map of the world benefits from the so-called “grain deals”? USM talked about this and other things with Dmytro Kazanin, director of the TEUS transport and logistics company.
Do state compensations exist and how do they work for vessels traveling through temporary corridors?
After the full-scale invasion began, shipping in the western part of the Black Sea was completely blocked. Since that time, there have been no stable ways of transporting Ukrainian products. The so-called “grain corridor” operated from August 2022 to July 17, 2023, until the aggressor country unilaterally terminated the agreement. Thanks to this corridor, Ukrainian farmers were able to export about 32 million tons of grain and oil cargo. However, this corridor worked effectively only in the first months, the aggressor country constantly created artificial obstacles.
Later in September, thanks to the efforts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Infrastructure, it was possible to launch and, as we can see in practice, ensure the functioning of the new humanitarian corridor, through which more than 50 ships have already passed and the same number are expected. Despite the regular threats of the aggressor, this sea route works and has its advantages.
Well, the key thing is regarding compensation from the state, or more precisely, the launch of the state insurance fund. This is UAH 20 billion, calculated in cases where ships with cargo come under hostilities. Undoubtedly, this is an important factor that will contribute to the development of the new humanitarian corridor, first of all, it will allow to reduce the cost of freight. But it is worth noting that this is still an initiative, and the mechanism of its practical implementation is still unknown to me.
Only agricultural products could be exported through the “Grain Corridor”. What opportunities for other cargoes do temporary corridors open?
There are no restrictions on cargo and directions, compared to the “grain corridor”. This means that any goods can be sent both for export and imported into the territory of Ukraine, which has not happened since the beginning of the full-scale invasion – that is, ships going to Ukraine can be loaded.
Accordingly, this applies not only to agricultural products, but also, for example, products of the metallurgical industry and fertilizers. Oil cargoes and grain, of course, do not lose their relevance either. Therefore, Ukrainian business from a wide variety of fields can feel more confident and take advantage of the opportunities for both export activity and, just as importantly, import activity.
Why do the UN and Turkey insist more on the restoration of the Grain Agreement than on the development of exports through temporary corridors? Are these political motives or are there any real economic threats?
In my opinion, the UN and Turkey are earning themselves political points. As for the economic benefit, Turkey had it at a time when grain was expensive, so this country then got the opportunity to buy cheap grain. Today, I do not see an economic motive. Only political.
To what maximum can exports be increased through temporary corridors?
It is possible to increase exports to the level of pre-war volumes. However, it will be difficult to do this, as the port infrastructure has been damaged by shelling. A third of the capacity was lost. So it should be taken into account. But international players increasingly believe in the new humanitarian corridor, due to which it is expected that the actions of panamax vessels will increase and, accordingly, the volume will increase.
What prospects does TEUS see in the opening of ports/corridor (Chornomorsk, Odesa, Pivdenny ports?)
We are already starting work in the ports of Chornomorsk and Odesa. As for the South Port, we are not there yet, but there are such plans. If we talk about the work format itself, then it is a direct variant of loading from wagons to ships, or from cars to ships. We also plan to carry out work through a warehouse with accumulation. In the Odesa port, it is possible to accumulate 20 thousand tons, and in the Black Sea port – 10 thousand tons. But we put the main emphasis on complex rates – from the elevator to the loading of the ship in a direct option. This means that the entire range of services that is optimal for the client is offered.
How strongly does Russian shelling of ports affect the functioning of the new export route?
Of course, shelling affects the work, which can be seen on the example of the Danube infrastructure. At the same time, such a negative impact applies not only to the infrastructure itself, but also to those objects that are used during the loading and unloading of ships. Similarly, this applies to the issue of risks, ship and cargo insurance. But, fortunately, the Armed Forces repel attacks quite well. Therefore, there is no panic regarding the arrival of ships. The further perspective of work looks quite favorable.