ROMANIA- Following the collapse of the Black Sea grain initiative, Romania said it could double its monthly transit of Ukrainian grain to its Black Sea port of Constanta to 4 million tonnes in the coming months, particularly via the Danube River.
According to a report by Reuters, citing Romania’s minister of transport, Romania is bullish about its ability to support Ukraine in this way following the completion of EU-funded infrastructure projects and its investment in hiring additional staff.
Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain exporters, and Russia has been attacking its agricultural and port infrastructure after refusing to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
The initiative had allowed for the safe passage of 33 million tonnes of grains and other foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports after Russia’s February 2022 invasion had halted exports. The recent attacks have included Ukraine’s inland Danube ports of Reni and Izmail.
Before Russia pulled out of the safe passage corridor, the Danube ports accounted for about 25% of Ukraine’s grain exports. Grain is loaded onto barges, shipped downriver through territorial waters of European Union and NATO-member Romania, and onwards from Romania’s flagship Black Sea port of Constanta.
By hiring more staff to ease the passage of vessels into the Danube’s Sulina canal and by finalizing connecting infrastructure projects — many of them EU-funded — Romania could increase the transit capacity, Romanian Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu told reporters after a meeting with representatives of the EU, the United States, Moldova and Ukraine in the Danube town of Galati.
“I have underlined the importance of Romanian rail, road, and naval transport routes to maintain a constant flow for Ukrainian exports,” Grindeanu said. “It was a good meeting that will lead us through the agreed measures to raise grain transit capacity from over 2 million tonnes per month at present to almost 4 million tonnes in the coming months.”
Grindeanu said Romania’s Danube administration agency will have 60 pilots to take ships in and out of the Sulina Canal by the end of August. An EU-funded project to make sailing possible at night on Sulina likely will be completed in October.
Grindeanu added that when all these investments are made and the number of pilots increases, the Romanian ports of Galati and Braila will be used alongside Reni and Izmail.