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Alternate Ukrainian export hubs emerge

Multiple options are opening up to ship goods out of war-torn Ukraine, a nation that closed all its ports on February 24, the day Russia invaded.

Romania has reopened a Soviet-era rail link connecting its Danube River port of Galati to Ukraine a month earlier than originally planned.

Grain cargoes coming from Ukraine via Moldova can reach Galati directly to be transferred onto barges and then further, including to the Black Sea port of Constanta.

Constanta has been an important hub for Ukrainian cargoes in the opening months of the war, however, it is now operating at full capacity, both for dry bulk and containers. Earlier this week, Danish carrier Maersk detailed new contingency plans to shift some boxes away from congested Constanta to the Turkish terminal, Safiport.

Meanwhile, a port in landlocked Moldova located at the confluence of Danube and Prut rivers, is showing dramatically increased cargo volumes in the wake of war.

Giurgiulesti Port, Moldova’s only commercial access to international waters, has reported cargo volumes have more than doubled to more than 800,000 tons in the first half of the year, mainly due to increasing imports of petroleum oil products, coal and fertiliser and exports of grains and vegetable oil. Construction of a new $5m terminal is now underway, due to open in the second half of next year.

Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Varna is also positioning itself to take some of the load from Ukraine. With Constanta filling up, shippers are making more enquiries about using Varna in recent weeks.

Like in Romania, the government of Bulgaria has simplified cross-border rules for trucks carrying Ukrainian import and export cargoes.

Further north, ports in Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea are also taking some Ukrainian agri-products to international markets, developing a transit corridor from Ukraine which bypasses Belarus.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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