Ukraine looks to boost exports via new scheme near mouth of Danube

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine has started work on alternative export opportunities for its grain crop by organising transshipments near the mouth of the Danube River, ports authorities said on Tuesday.

A major grain grower and exporter, Ukraine’s 2023 grain output is seen at up to 55 million metric tons in 2023 versus from 53 million in 2022 and a record 86 million in 2021.

As it consumes only about 17 million tons per season Ukraine needs to export the remainder. However, a blockade of its major sea ports since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 has impacted its ability to export.

The ports authority said on Facebook that the government had adopted a resolution to formally expand the boundaries of one of Ukraine’s Danube ports.

“The document was supplemented with new geographical coordinates for the location of anchorages near the mouth of the Bystre, to organise roadside transshipment of grain cargo from the sea ports of Ust-Dunaisk and Izmail to Panamax vessels,” the authority said.

The move makes it possible to transship cargo from one vessel to another when vessels are anchored rather than at the port berth.

In the 2022/23 season, most of Ukraine’s grain was exported via deep Black Sea ports under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

However, Russia left the deal on July 17 after saying its demands to ease sanctions on its own grain and fertilizer exports had not been met.

That has left Ukraine with limited export options, mainly through small river ports on the Danube and via its western land border with the European Union.

Ordinarily about half of Ukrainian agricultural exports exits via Black Sea ports, a quarter through its Danube ports and a quarter via its western border.

The authority did not say how much the Danube transshipments might increase once the new scheme starts working.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Jason Neely)