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Ukraine Nearly Doubles Cargo Volumes Reaching Toward Prewar Levels

Ukraine
As momentum builds, Ukraine is nearing prewar cargo volumes through its Black Sea ports (Sea Ports Authority)

Published Jun 7, 2024 4:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority is highlighting that in the nine months since the sea corridor was opened, they have largely restored prewar volumes and continue to work to expand the range of cargoes handled. This has come despite the repeated attacks by Russian forces on the seaports and the country’s infrastructure.

May volumes surpassed 8 million tonnes versus 7.7 million that transited the corridor in April. Year-to-date they are saying between 45 and 50 million tonnes of cargo have been moved, which is nearly twice the 2023 levels when primarily grains were moving. In the first four months of the corridor, they moved just over 4 million tonnes.

“Given the favorable security situation, we aim to reach the average pre-war level of cargo turnover,” the port authority said in a statement reviewing monthly volumes and the overall progress. They noted this was a significant advancement and steady progress is being made since the Joseph Schulte became the first vessel to depart on August 16, 2023.  As of May 2024, they are reporting over 1,700 vessels have been handled and the traffic volume continues to build.

Ukraine remains the top exporter of agricultural products according to the port authority. In April, they said grains made up 6.3 million tons of the cargo versus a total of 9.9 million tonnes of cargo through all the seaports, including inland ports. 

Starting in April, the Turkish company Akkon launched the feeder service for containers between Chornomorsk and Constanta, Romania. The success of that operation led to the restoration of services by both Hapag-Lloyd and now Maersk, which is also discontinuing its barge service via the Danube. MSC Mediterranean Shipping is now expected to also resume service in mid-June. They are planning to sail directly from the Odesa area to Turkey, marking a further expansion of service from Ukraine.

So far, they are reporting that 10 containerships have been handled. The Turkish companies are using general cargo ships outfitted for the boxes while the first dedicated containerships later returned to the Black Sea ports. The service for Maersk is being operated with vessels of a capacity of 1,100 TEU.

Port officials said they remain focused on resuming the container operations. They are hoping to restore more direct container service beyond the feeders operating to Romania. They are also now looking to restart ferry operations.