The first ship inbound for a Ukrainian seaport in many months passed Rhodes in southern Greece this morning en route to Chornomorsk, one of three ports allowed to export grain under a deal reached between warring neighbours Russia and Ukraine 11 days ago.
The 30,570 dwt Osprey S becomes the first of what Ukraine and the United Nations hope will become an armada of handy bulk carriers heading to the Black Sea to move millions of tons of last year’s Ukrainian harvest over the coming 109 days as per terms agreed in the shipping pact signed between Moscow and Kyiv on July 22.
Meanwhile, the 29,292 dwt Razoni is expected to anchor off Istanbul this afternoon and be inspected by a joint team of Russian, Ukrainian, United Nations and Turkish representatives. The laden Razoni has had an incident-free passage thus far, having departed Odesa yesterday morning, becoming the first trial vessel to make a voyage out of a Ukrainian seaport for more than six months along a safe corridor as part of the so called Black Sea Grain Initiative. Post-inspection, the Razoni is scheduled to head to Lebanon.
Another ship that has been stranded in Ukrainian waters for the past six months is readying to depart. Shipping platform Sea/ indicates the 75,565 dwt Ocean Lion is now signalling that that it is heading to Singapore with an expected time of arrival of August 29. The ship has been stuck in the port of Chornomorsk since February.
Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s most important sources of grain. The war has seen food prices leap. New dry bulk shipping estimates by Lorentzen & Co Research, with input from shipping consultants Maritime Strategies International, forecast that seaborne grain exports from the former Soviet Union will decline heavily from 117.8m tons last year to 90.8m tons this year. Next year Lorentzen predicts grain exports from the former Soviet Union will pick up again to 107.4m tons, including wheat and corn, in addition to more exports of sunflower oil.
Cargo order volumes for agricultural commodities loading in Ukraine spiked last week to more than five times higher than the average since war began in late February, according to chartering platform Shipfix. Order volumes keep building, with 80,000 tonnes booked yesterday, higher than many weekly totals seen in June and July. Average cargo sizes remain around 20,000 tonnes.
“Rates for Black Sea routes are probably going to move north, mainly because of the war risk and the insurance complications, as there are still lots of mines in the Black Sea, additional guarantees are needed for vessels safety,” a new report from Xclusiv Shipbrokers suggested.
Suggestions that a lack of crew might stymie exports have been quashed by crew managers and senior shipping officials. InterManager, the global association for shipmanagers, has repeatedly discussed the ongoing large availability of Ukrainian seafarers as has Bogdan Zelenski, the founder of crew manager Alpha Navigation, who said there were around 5,000 seafarers ready to help make the Black Sea Grain Initiative a success.