Romanian ports are struggling to handle Ukrainian grain streams


Constanta, Romania (AP) — The port of Ukraine was blocked or occupied by Russian troops, and the port of Constanta in the neighboring Black Sea of ​​Romania emerged as the main conduit for grain exports in the war-torn country. In the growing world food crisis..

Nearly 1 million tons of grain from Ukraine, Romania’s largest port, Europe’s heaviest grain terminal and one of the world’s largest wheat and corn exporters since the invasion on February 24. Has been processed.

However, port operators say that without the coordinated support and investment of the European Union, it may not be possible to sustain quickly, let alone increase throughput.

“If we want to continue to support Ukrainian farmers, we need help to increase their processing capacity,” said Dan Dolghin, Head of Grain Business, a major Comvex operator at Black Sea Port.

“A single operator cannot invest in an infrastructure that becomes redundant when the war ends,” he added.

Comvex can process up to 72,000 tonnes of grain per day. And Constanta is currently the best route for Ukrainian agricultural exports due to its proximity to Ukraine by land and the Suez Canal by sea. Other alternatives include road and rail transportation across the western border of Ukraine to Poland and its Baltic ports.

There is no effort to lift the blockade of Russia, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Project Up to 181 million people in 41 countries could face a food crisis or more serious hunger this year In connection with the Ukrainian war.

Just days after Russia’s invasion, Comvex invested in a new unloading facility and predicted that neighboring countries would have to reroute agricultural exports.

This allowed the port to ship nearly 1 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the past four months, most of which arrived by barge on the Donau River. However, 20 times that amount is still blocked in Ukraine, and the summer harvest season is approaching in Romania itself and in other countries that use Constanta for export.

“As summer harvests in Romania gain momentum, all port operators will turn to Romanian grain,” he warned.

Ukrainian Deputy Agriculture Minister Markian Dmytrasevych is also worried.

In a speech to the European Parliament earlier this month, Dmytrasevych said that when Constanta operators turned to European grain suppliers in the summer, “exports of Ukrainian products would be more complicated.”

Romania and other EU officials have also expressed concern and have been lining up for the past few weeks to promise support.

About recent Visit Kieu with French, German and Italian leadersRomanian President Klaus Iohannis said his country is looking for possible ways to overcome “Russia’s weaponization of grain exports.”

“As a relevant part of the solution to food insecurity caused by Russia, Romania is actively involved in facilitating the passage of Ukraine’s exports and acting as a grain hub.” Middle East, North Africa and parts In Asia to reach the traditional market of Ukraine, he said.

Solutions discussed in Kyiv include speeding up the transport of cliffs on the Donau River, speeding up unloading at Romanian ports, new border crossings of Ukrainian grain trucks, Romania and Ukraine and Moldova. Included was the reopening of the abandoned railroad connecting.

Romanian analysts say Iohanis in Kyiv seeking an international “coalition of the willing” to tackle the problem, as finding alternative routes for Ukrainian grain exports is beyond private logistics companies and a single country. Said that it reflects the call.

“The situation in Ukraine will not be resolved soon. The conflict may end tomorrow, but tensions will continue …. Therefore, new transportation routes need to be considered and integrated,” George Vulcanescu said. Stated.

In that sense, he said that Ukraine’s exports have only three economically viable routes via Romania, Poland and the Baltic States.

But he added, “Port operators need financial support from Romanian authorities, but funding should come from the European Union.”

Vulcanescu said a combination of rapid investment and “minimum, not maximum” investment is needed.

“Large investments cannot be made quickly. We need to find a quick solution to expand the (existing) storage and processing capacity of Romanian ports,” he added. “If we want to help Ukraine now, we need to look for smaller investments to improve the infrastructure we already have.”

Dolghin of Comvex said the operators would like to help as much as possible, but added that “we hope to see concrete action, not just a statement in support of the port operator.”