The 29,292 dwt Razoni bulk carrier departed from the port of Odesa this morning, becoming the trial first vessel to transit the Black Sea from Ukrainian waters in more than six months since war broke out with Russia. The 1996-built, Sierra Leone-flagged ship is bound for Lebanon and is one of more than 80 international vessels that have been stranded in Ukraine for more than six months. The ship, under convoy, will stop at Istanbul where under the terms of the agreement thrashed out between Ukraine and Russia 10 days ago it will be inspected. The ship is “more or less fully laden” according to a spokesperson from Shipfix, a chartering platform.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed in Istanbul, with support from Turkey and the United Nations, allows for shipments from three Ukrainian seaports for an initial period of 120 days, allowing Ukraine to shift more of last year’s harvest ahead of this year’s crop being readied for export.
Ukrainian authorities had wanted to get a first ship out on Friday but this proved impossible. A spokesperson for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told local TV yesterday: “There have been a few hitches, a few issues being discussed with the Russians.”
A spokesperson for the UN said today that he hoped today’s voyage would be the first of many commercial ships moving to bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is planning to purchase, load and ship an initial 30,000 metric tons of wheat out of Ukraine on a UN-chartered vessel.
The Razoni is being watched closely by many on sites such as MarineTraffic to see that its passage to Lebanon is smooth. In Lebanon, meanwhile, local authorities have seized a ship called Laodicea loaded with barley and wheat flour while they determine whether the cargo may have been stolen from Ukraine. The ship is owned by a Syrian firm sanctioned by the US for its ties with the Syrian government of president Bashar Assad. Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing more than 500,000 tonnes of grain since war began.
In London on Friday, insurer Ascot launched a marine cargo and war facility which will provide coverage for grain and food products transitioning through the new Black Sea safe corridors.
Placed by Marsh, and led by Ascot, the Lloyd’s facility will provide up to $50m in all risks marine cargo and war coverage.
In other Ukraine war news, a prominent local shipowner, Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, 74, was killed yesterday when his mansion in the under-siege port city of Mykolaiv was shelled.
Vadaturskyi founded Nibulon, a top grain producer, which also built its own fleet of vessels as well as investing in ports and a shipyard.