The United Nations (UN)-brokered Black Sea grain corridor had led to the export of 12M tonnes of foodstuffs from Ukraine since its introduction on 22 July but logistical problems were still affecting exports from the region, Ben Parker, the officer-in-charge of the Office of the UN co-ordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) said at the International Grains Council (IGC)’s second Black Sea webinar held on 29 November.

Potential solutions to help improve dry bulk logistics in Ukraine were presented at the webinar.

Issues included a backlog of vessels waiting to travel to Ukraine and collect shipments, Parker said, with 71 ships queueing on the day of the webinar, which led to wait times of up to a month.

Deep sea shipping had become impossible and border crossings were also facing major bottlenecks with 18-20 hour delays at rail border crossing points, Martin Humphreys, lead transport economist and the global lead for transport connectivity and regional integration, maritime transport and logistics at the World Bank, said.

Humphreys explained how the organisation had carried out a modelling exercise to identify alternative options for the region.

“The UN-brokered agreement has been very successful – but is it enough?” Humphreys said.

The World Bank study, conducted in May, modelled the pre-war “Do nothing” approach and 23 other scenarios.

Key findings of the study included the fact that to handle increasing export volumes, alternative routes to the traditionally-used Black Sea ports cluster – Romania, Bulgaria and Danube ports – would be needed.

Potential alternatives included the ports of Constanta, Romania; Trieste, Italy; Gydnia, Poland; Riga, Latvia; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Immediate measures could include the reduction of custom check times for both road and rail deliveries, while short term measures could include establishing the movement of grain by containers at scale.

Longer term measures could include new terminal and storage capacities at Constanta to increase grain trans-shipment capacity.

Another scenario would be to construct a new wide gauge railway from Ukraine to Lithuania via Poland.