The lion’s share of exports went through seaports, but betting at sea was a bad joke. With the start of the war, the ports closed and export opportunities fell by more than half. Even if peace is agreed today, the ports will be able to resume operations only in the autumn. What is happening in the ports of Ukraine, when ships will leave and why this is the main issue of the economy.

Through seaports, Ukraine has exported more than 70% of all cargo worth about $ 47 billion. Since February 24, the sea gate at the castle has been blocked by the Russian navy and anti-ship mines. Hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo were trapped in ports and ships during the raid. Some managed to be taken away by road and rail, others are under fire or captured by the Russian military.

Restoration of ports is a critical condition for the launch of the Ukrainian economy. To understand the role of ports, here are the figures from the April forecast of the investment company Dragon Capital: a 25% drop in GDP if the Black Sea remains closed, and 22% if the ports work. Ports are even more important for the trade balance than for GDP: due to the blockade of ports, the economy loses about $ 170 million every day, said Oleg Nivyevsky, vice president of the Kyiv School of Economics.

Ports under occupation

Ukraine does not control four ports: Mariupol, Berdyansk, Skadovsk and Kherson, says Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov. These ports together provided 7.5% of the total transshipment. What’s going on there now?

Until 2014, the Mariupol sea trade port was one of the three largest – handled about 15 million tons of cargo per year. After the start of the war in Donbass in 2014, the port’s indicators fell three times. Before the Great War, the port approached with a turnover of about 7 million tons.

“Everything worked on February 23. The cars were going to be unloaded at the terminal. We were preparing for the sowing campaign, ”says Pavlo Plotnikov, General Director of the UkrTransAgro port terminal. A few days later, Plotnikov was already sending cars to the port to take the wheat from his silos to the mills, which could make flour for the besieged city. All 30,000 could not be removed. The businessman has not had access to the terminal for a long time. Some of the cars burned down, others were confiscated by the Russian military. Most of the grain is gone. “The terminal is completely destroyed, some silos are damaged, the console, the heart and the brains of the terminal are destroyed,” says Plotnikov.

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The ship repair department of UkrTransAgro has suffered even more. The company owned the only shipyard in the Sea of ​​Azov. Without electricity, the pumps that keep the dock afloat stopped, and the structure, which weighed tens of thousands of tons, went under water. “It had about three tons of diesel fuel, and we don’t know if there was an environmental disaster or not,” Plotnikov said. Of UkrTransAgro’s 100 employees, 30 disappeared, several were injured, and the rest were able to evacuate to either Ukraine or Russia.

At the beginning of the war, the port had about 300,000 tons of cargo, six loading ships were blocked, says the head of the Mariupol seaport Sergei Gusakov, he managed to leave Mariupol in late March. About 70% of the port’s office buildings burned down, he said. But he adds that these are approximate estimates made on the basis of photos and videos that appear in the media and social networks. Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov says storage equipment, handling equipment and several of the 18 berths have been damaged. There are sunken ships in the water area. But if the war ends soon and the waters are cleared quickly, it will be possible to quickly resume work on most berths, Gusakov said.

In the port of Kherson (exceeded about 3 million tons), the Russians staged a robbery, Plotnikov said a familiar local port. They stole tugs, ground infrastructure equipment, and exported consignments of grain to the Crimea.

In Berdyansk (about 2 million tons) the situation is different. The Russians seized the port there, but Ukrainian flags are not removed, says the director of the port operator, who declined to give his name, fearing for his business and the people who remain in Berdyansk.

The occupiers carried out an “inventory” of cargo stored in ports, released grain-laden vessels to standing buyers, and allow locals to carry out regular work on barges (pump water). For some time, they loaded their broken equipment on the ship and imported military equipment. But on March 26, the Ukrainian military destroyed the Russian landing ship Saratov, and the Russians stopped bringing their ships into port.

Full article [Forbes Ukraine]

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