Romania threatened sea exports from Ukraine
There has formed a congestion of about 90 ships near the sea channel Sulina. The Romanian side does not cope with the problem and ignores the proposals of the Ukrainian port workers.
Now Ukrainian exports are partially connected with the Danube and the Sulina Sea Canal. As of May 21st, a congestion of about 90 cargo ships has formed in front of the canal. As Ukrainian expert Andrii Sokolov noted on Facebook, the channel is operated by the Romanian side, which has never encountered such an influx of ships before.
“In the past four weeks, the situation has gone from bad to worse. The Ukrainian side made a number of proposals, in particular, how to speed up the escort of ships. However, the administration of the channel is very conservative and has not accepted any proposals at the moment,” Sokolov said.
The expert noted that Romania has “its own vision of how the queue is built.”
“At the moment, this issue is being resolved exclusively by the administration of the channel, behind closed doors. They have priority cargoes, there are Romanian cargoes, which are considered out of turn. There is a shortage of pilots who navigate the vessel along the entire length of the canal to Ukraine,” Sokolov added.
Vessels are now at anchor and awaiting passage through the canal for 10 days or more. Ukrainian exporters pay for each day of downtime, the amount of demurrage on ships reaches about $500,000 per day.
“For a long time everyone fought at their level, but given that exports are all we have left, this problem needs to be raised at the level of heads of government. And urgently decide,” Andrii Sokolov summed up.
What does the Ukrainian side offer?
In general, as USM managed to find out, the Ukrainian port workers offered the Romanian side:
- to relocate pilots from closed Ukrainian ports along with boats to Romania;
- to illuminate the dangerous turn of the Danube in the Tulcea area at night, as well as organize round-the-clock pilotage with the help of escort tugs;
- to process incoming ships in the roadstead while they are waiting for the vessel call, and not already in the port of Sulina itself.
The Ukrainian SE “Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority” and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine did not stand aside. To solve this problem, the departments proposed:
- to attract additional berths to the border and customs inspection in the port of Sulina to ensure the inspection of at least six vessels simultaneously (at present, simultaneous clearance is carried out only at two berths);
- to revise the work schedule of the Sulina Canal and increase the time for the movement of ships in two directions by 1 hour before dawn and 1 hour after sunset; in case of congestion from ships in one of the directions, introduce the practice of one-way traffic at night;
- increase the maximum allowable speed depending on the technical condition of the canal and the situation in it (currently set at 5.65 knots = 6.5 mph), including for one-way traffic;
- to make extraordinary passes for vessels for which there is a confirmed free berth in the port;
- consider the possibility of offshore transshipment in the ports of Sulina and Constanta, as well as 61 miles of the Danube River (in the absence of free port capacities of the ports).
The problem needs to be solved urgently, because the new harvesting season begins in Ukraine in a month. Ukrainian exporters are looking for all sorts of ways to export, and so far they have not completely exported the 2021 crop, and there will simply be nowhere to store the new one. Ignoring by Romania not only costs Ukrainian exporters dearly, but also puts export operations at even greater risk in a month.
In conditions of war, when Ukrainian ports are blocked by Russian invaders, support from friendly countries is very important. The main thing is to provide this support now, and not when the problems reach critical proportions.