Ship entry into the Sulina canal restricted in order to offload pressure

11 May 2022 | Masha Belikova

The agency overseeing operations along a key Black Sea canal has temporarily halted vessels moving towards the key Ukrainian and Romanian ports of Reni, Izmail or Giurgiulesti amid a huge backlog. 

The Sulina Canal has emerged as a key link in the supply chain moving Ukrainian agricultural produce via the River Danube towards Black Sea export facilities and has reported a major increase in activity as a result. 

That has forced the canal's administrators to temporarily limit vessels going into Reni, Izmail and Giurgiulesti ports won't be allowed to enter the canal in order to prevent further queues building up amid a lack of pilots available to guide ships along the canal's length.

“As before, the Sulina administration decided in yesterday's meeting that they will not allow more than three ships waiting in the anchorage at nautical mile 36, three more at nautical mile 44, three at Reni roads and two at Giurgiulesti roads,” a note seen by Agricensus said.

“In order to avoid blockage, ships going to Reni/Giurgiulesti will not enter Sulina canal until these areas are clear; the same will be applied for Izmail port,” the note said, explaining that one stage already has four ships waiting and no further will be admited until the number drops below three. 

The ship tracking service Marine Traffic showed there are already up to 70 vessels waiting for the entrance to be re-opened.

Sulina canal links the shallow water Ukrainian and Romanian ports with the Black Sea, and has proved to be unready for the sharp increase in product flows from Ukrainian ports amid the blockade of Ukraine's deep sea ports after Russia started the war. 

The congestion also comes along with an ongoing restriction of grain wagons moving into the port of Reni by rail.

Thus, situations are starting to happen where a vessel has already arrived into port but the grain that it is expecting to load has not yet reached the terminal, thus bringing even more delays.

At the same time, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has again urged the international community to stop the Russian blockade of the deep seaports of Ukraine citing the threat to world food supply.