Romania starts €200mn dredging operation at port used for Ukraine exports

Romania starts €200mn dredging operation at port used for Ukraine exports
/ bne IntelliNews
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest February 21, 2024

The government of Romania has approved a decision earmarking more than RON1bn (€200mn) for dredging works in basins and navigable channels at Constanta Port. 

The deepening of the port’s waters will lead to an increase in the volume of goods that will pass through the Port of Constanta, according to the government. The transit of goods through the Port of Constanta already exceeded 60mn tonnes in 2022 from 53mn tonnes in 2021, an important part of this increase being due to Ukrainian grain exports. 

Navigable areas will be expanded by creating channels/pools in areas that currently have natural depth, thus improving navigation conditions and navigation safety and will create conditions for increased cargo traffic, states the memorandum of understanding drafted by the government.

In some of the perimeters, the government said on February 16, the level of the bottom of the basin near the quay wall is higher than the designed level, which endangers the safety of ships.

The project will be financed under the Transport Programme under the EU’s 2021-2017 multiannual financial framework and from the state budget, through the budget of the Ministry of Transport, within the limits of the budget approved annually for this purpose.

The works will be carried out in the area of Constanta, Midia and Mangalia ports, the document states, and will last 39 months, of which 30 months will be for the execution of the works, and the first four months for carrying out preliminary studies. 

The dredging works were announced at a time when Ukrainian exporters are struggling to get their grain to international markets amid protests by Polish farmers — demonstrating against what they call an uncontrolled flood of Ukrainian food products — on overland routes into the EU. 

Ukraine said it is planning an additional route via the Danube River to boost exports to pre-war levels, Bloomberg reported. The Danube became a priority avenue for Ukrainian supplies after Russia exited a United Nations-backed safe corridor in the Black Sea last year. Still, a significant amount of crops also flow by rail and road via the EU. 

"We are planning container transportation via the upper Danube as Romania is more predictable than the Polish border,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said as reported by Bloomberg.

The new route will run from the Ukrainian seaport in Izmail to Romania’s Constanta.

The Polish farmers, who are blocking the traffic near the checkpoints at the Polish-Ukrainian border, are planning to continue the protest action until April.

Reportedly, if the blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border is not lifted by the end of the month, Ukraine’s budget may lose up to UAH7.7bn ($200mn).