Due to the war in Ukraine, Romania will become an alternative route for grain exports. The President speaks of a “logistical challenge of epic proportions.”
The Russian war of aggression in the Ukraine has confronted neighboring EU country Romania with the difficult task of serving as an alternative route for the export of Ukrainian grain.
Due to inadequate transportation infrastructure, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis recently described this problem as a “logistical challenge of epic proportions.” Florin Goidea, director general of Romania’s largest Black Sea port of Constanta, saw no quick fix in an interview with the German Press Agency.
Only transport routes from Ukraine to Constanta are difficult. “More than 80 percent of incoming Ukrainian grain arrives at our port on small cargo ships via the Danube,” says Goidea. The Danube Delta forms the border between Ukraine and Romania in the southeast. These river freighters have to travel up the Danube from the Ukrainian ports of Reni and Ismail on the Danube, first on the meandering arm of the Chilia delta to Cernavoda inland and from there along the Danube-Black Sea Canal to Constanta, explains the administrator. of the port. It’s a good 200 miles from Ismail.
The truck route is even more difficult: trucks from Ukraine sometimes have to wait weeks at border crossings due to formalities. At the port of Constanta, on the other hand, the 20 to 25 Ukrainian grain trucks arriving daily cause crowds, as Goidea complains. Rail access is almost blocked because the Romanian state railway CFR parked 700 disused carriages at the port station, more than half of which have since been removed. Now 35 railways in the port are to be modernized for 200 million lei (40.8 million euros), Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said.
Planned Modernization Projects
There is a government project to expand and modernize the port, but this is only at the stage of planned feasibility studies, says Goidea. Among other things, it is about increasing the number of berths by 17 from the current 140 and deepening the port dock to be able to admit larger ships. The port director estimates that the cost will range between 500 and 1,000 million euros, and financing is being negotiated with the World Bank. The port administration also wants to apply for EU funds.
From the beginning of the Ukraine war until the beginning of June, 15 ships with a total of 242,000 tons of Ukrainian grain left Constanta, Goidea said. That would be just 1.21 percent of the 20 million tons of grain from last year’s harvest that Ukraine currently plans to export. Throughout 2021, 25 million tons of cereals from Romanian production and from neighboring countries were exported through Constanta. And the next harvest is just around the corner.