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Ukrainian shallow water ports are facing a shortage of barges for grain trans-shipment to the Romanian port of Constanta due to uncertainty over the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) forcing traders to look at less risky options, trade sources told AgriCensus.

The trans-shipment of grains via barges from Ukraine’s shallow water ports in the south of the country has been one of the main ways that the trade moved volumes out to deep seaports following Russia’s invasion of the country last February, the 15 February report said.

A naval blockade and military attacks have shut down Ukraine’s primary export capacity, but the shallow water ports allowed traders to move agricultural products to Romanian ports to be loaded onto bigger vessels or to offer Ukrainian grains on a FOB Constanta basis, AgriCensus wrote.

Ukrainian deep seaports re-opened in early August following the signing of the grain export deal – although most shippers had switched back to Odessa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi as shipment was more cost effective as long as the export corridor was functioning, the report said.

However, with the queue of vessels waiting for inspection continuing to grow since October, and with the existing deal due to expire next month unless extended again, traders had again turned to safer options as they prepared for further disruption, AgriCensus wrote.

Against this backdrop, loading grains from Ukrainian ports such as Reni and Izmail, along the River Danube, had created increased demand leading to a shortage of available barges, the report said.

“Constanta becomes more and more important, most buyers want execution via Constanta or POC [the collective term for Pivdennyi, Odessa and Chernomorsk], but with guaranteed execution,” a broker was quoted by AgriCensus as saying.

Some trade sources say the situation is temporary, and as soon as the arrangements around the grain corridor deal are clarified – and the deal is extended again – trade will slowly return to Ukrainian deep seaports, according to the report.