Significant increase in number of shipments from Danube ports but only with small vessels


Following the Russia-Ukraine war, departures of dry bulk and general cargo vessel, which can carry grain cargo, from Ukrainian and Romanian Danube River ports have increased by 53% from a month ago to 1.8 million deadweight tons (dwt) in May 2022, with larger employment of small general cargo ships. However, total volume is too small to offset the loss of the Ukrainian cargo. Combined capacity of dry bulk and general cargo ship departures from Ukraine has decreased by 92% from the year-ago level (10 million dwt) to below 1 million dwt according to Commodities at Sea, S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Transporting Ukraine’s agricultural products by rail to ports in Romania is costly and time consuming. The railway border crossings have limited capacity for rail wheel replacement, as Ukraine rail (1,520 mm gauge) infrastructure links to Russia rather than Romania (1,435 mm gauge).

Also, while building temporary silos along the border of Ukraine to increase export volume via alternative ports such as Danube River ports using inland transportation is gaining more attention now, it would be difficult to see any significant change in near term. It will take months to procure equipment, construct, and make the silos operational.

According to Mr. Daejin Lee, Lead Shipping Analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, “the grain export volume from Ukraine during the Black Sea grain harvest season starting in the third quarter will be fairly limited and the global grain shortage, especially wheat, is expected to continue in the near term. This supply chain issue will remain the main upside risk to food inflation in the coming months.”
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence