Talk spreads that entry to Odesa ports will be blocked from early Nov

20 Oct 2022 | Masha Belikova

A rumor has been spreading among market participants that entry to Great Odesa ports will be blocked for vessels starting from early November, however the industry has treated this with caution as various talk is circulating in the market regarding the future work in the UN-brokered grain corridor from Ukraine and a lack of confirmation of the rumor.

The rumor comes amid general uncertainty on whether the corridor will continue to operate after November 21, when the current deal officially ends.

On the Ukrainian side, expectations are quite optimistic, while on the Russian side there are comments almost every day that suggest there is a reluctance to prolong the deal.

Many of the sources Agricensus contacted said they were not sure if the rumour was true, but said that it could be a logical move to let vessels that have already been booked and expected to arrive in Ukrainian waters to complete inspections for entrance in Turkey, load and leave Ukraine before the deal officially ends.

This comes as the queue awaiting inspection in Istanbul to enter and leave Ukraine has risen to 160 vessels, while trade sources said a maximum of 14 vessels a day are currently being inspected, and the number tends to be slower as Russia's inspectors seem reluctant to cooperate.

Also, due to the level of congestion at Istanbul, trade sources said some vessels are waiting for inspection at Canakkale or in the Black Sea.

“It is not official yet; it depends on how negotiations about the grain corridor extension will develop. If there is no positive news, then yes – our ports will be forced to suspend ships arrivals, because of the risk they will be blocked in port after November 19,” a trade source said.

“I don't think anything is official, but given the corridor closes on the 19th and it takes roughly 20-25 days for the whole process, that pretty much takes care of it,” a trader said.

Agricensus has contacted the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure and the port administration for official comment on the situation, but no response was received by the time of publication.

Freight market sources said they had not heard about any suspension of entry to Ukraine's ports, but vessel owners have been reluctant to fix new vessels in the region for almost two weeks amid risks of vessels being stuck in the country, as happened in February when Russia invaded Ukraine.