The first grain ship left Ukraine’s port of Chornomorsk, as Kyiv seeks to defy Russia’s effective blockade of its Black Sea facilities since the collapse of a safe-passage deal in July. Wheat extended losses.
(Bloomberg) — The first grain ship left Ukraine’s port of Chornomorsk, as Kyiv seeks to defy Russia’s effective blockade of its Black Sea facilities since the collapse of a safe-passage deal in July. Wheat extended losses.
One of two ships has left Chornomorsk with 3,000 tons of wheat and is heading toward the Bosphorus, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Another vessel is at the port loaded with wheat for Egypt, he added. They arrived on Saturday.
It’s too early to know if Kyiv’s efforts to open a corridor will significantly aid exports. The market is watching for Russia’s response, which has said it would treat any ships headed to Ukraine’s ports as potentially carrying weapons. In August, the Russian navy fired on a vessel to force it to stop for checks.
Ukraine is a major grain exporter and historically shipped agricultural products all over the world from its Black Sea ports, which have been blocked since Moscow exited the UN and Turkey-brokered deal. That’s forced Kyiv to use complicated and expensive river, rail and road routes to ship its crops abroad, but they have also been targeted by Russian drones in recent weeks.
While the safe passage of ships — if proved successful — could open the door to renewed trade from the sea ports, shipowners, crew and insurers are wary of sailing through the Black Sea, where risks have been escalating.
Five vessels left Odesa after the collapse of the grain deal, but they were all ships that had been stranded in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, rather than grain trade ships. Wheat futures are around 26% lower this year following bumper harvests in parts of the Northern Hemisphere including Russia.
“A combination of continued strong exports out of Russia and the possibility of exports coming through ports that were part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative” has weighed on prices, said Dennis Voznesenski, an analyst with Rabobank.
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