Ukraine's Danube Shipping Company (DSC) has asked Romania's Constanta Black Sea port to allow ship-to-ship grain transfers which would almost double its barge export capacity, the company said on Monday.
A major grower and exporter, Ukraine's 2023 grain output is seen at up to 56 million metric tons but a blockade of its major Black Sea ports since Russia's invasion in February 2022 has constrained shipments.
Ukraine's Danube river ports, which previously accounted for around a quarter of grain exports, are now the main route out for the country's harvest, some of which is sent on barges to Constanta for onwards shipment.
Ukraine exported 8.1 million metric tons of grain through Constanta in the first seven months of 2023, the port authority told Reuters last month, more than in the whole of 2022, including grain delivered to port silos by road and rail.
Romania's Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said last week that Romania's plan to double the monthly transit capacity for Ukrainian grain through Constanta to four million tons in coming months remains achievable.
DSC said on the Telegram messaging app that 60% of the grain export flow through Constanta is by river fleet, with barges delivering more than 700,000 tons of agricultural products to the Romanian port every month.
However, the company said it currently had around 600 barges at Constanta, with waiting times for unloading in port sometimes stretching to up to 60 days.
"If Constanta allows the development of...transshipment, the rivermen are ready to increase the volumes by another 500,000 tons," it said.
DSC said it had a project to set up three more anchorages near Constanta, one of which should be assigned to Ukraine, and is ready to create a Ukrainian port operator in Constanta.
Ukrainian seaport authorities said last month that the country had started work on alternative export opportunities for its grain crop by organising transshipments near the mouth of Danube.
It said that the government had adopted a resolution to formally expand the boundaries of one of Ukraine's Danube ports to make it possible to transfer cargo between anchored vessels. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)