Ukraine marks first panamax corn to load since Russian invasion

28 Apr 2022 | Masha Belikova

The first panamax-sized bulk carrier to carry Ukrainian corn since the Russian invasion began on February 24 has completed loading in the Romanian port of Constanta, with the shipment built from a trickle of smaller volumes that have passed across the border over the last few weeks. 

The vessel, carrying 71,200 mt of corn, is thought to be heading to Spain and was completed by Ukrainian Ukrlandfarming agricultural holding (ULF) and Arabian Al Dahra.

“On the origination side, it takes a couple of weeks to originate Ukrainian corn in Constanta, but ULF brought in a lot of barges in a short time,” the Al Dahra team told Agricensus.

There are more big fleet vessels expected to be loaded with Ukrainian corn and plan to be shipped from the same port in the coming few weeks, sources said.

That comes along with the Ukrainian government’s agreement with Bulgaria on the transportation of Ukrainian grains via the Bulgarian port of Varna in what is a small, but symbolic, victory for the Black Sea nation.

Currently, Ukraine can only load coaster-sized vessels from its shallow ports in the extreme south of the country.

In order for it to continue to export larger volumes, exporters will have to deliver the grains to the nearest deep sea ports across the EU in a move that requires more time and imposes greater costs amid a range of logistic difficulties.

Ukraine has been reliant upon rail to move volumes to the borders and on to export locations, with offers heard on a DAP basis at the border with Poland or other countries.

Two ports - Izmail and Reni - in the extreme south of the country bordering Romania have been able to load small coaster size vessels, but the larger panamax volumes are key in connecting Ukrainian supply with Asian destination markets.