From now on, vessels with a draft of 6.5 m are allowed to pass through the Bystre estuary. According to the order of the Port of Izmail issued February 16, the allowed draft of vessels passing through the water section from the 0th km of the Danube River Bystre mouth to the 77th km of the Chilia estuary is 6.5 m, while that from the 77th km to the 116th km of the Chilia mouth is 7 m.
According to ISM estimates, new limits will allow all vessels of up to 15k dwt to pass through Bystre in ballast. As for laden vessels, we expect that 70-80% of 3-4k dwt vessels will be able to pass Bystre being fully laden with so called deadweight cargoes and heavy grain (e.g. wheat). Up to 50% of existing 4-6k dwt vessels will be able to carry soya (sf 50-51`), barley (sf 53-54`) or even corn (sf 49`) on their max holds capacity or being not fully laden (-5-7% of dwcc) with wheat or deadweight cargoes. Obviously, switching to passages via Bystre will dissolve congestions at the Sulina entrance and most likely affect the number of open small-tonnage vessels all across the area via the increased turnover of fleet. Note, however, that some ship owners still intend to use the Sulina only since they do not have war risk coverage from their underwriters to use Bystre.
It is to be reminded that at the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the maximum draft reached only 3.9 m.
The Danube port cluster has stepped up significantly its export capacity over the past year. The overall transshipment of goods has surged 3 times at the ports of Izmail, Reni and Ust-Dunaisk since March 2022. In general, more than 17 million t of cargo were exported through those ports, including more than 11 million t of agricultural products.
"Such an uptrend dynamics on the one hand and available problems with exports through sea ports on the other hand make the development of the Danube region infrastructure a priority in our work. As part of this work and thanks to successes of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Black Sea, we have already opened the Bystre estuary for shipping, and increased the transshipment potential of the ports. We are also continuing dredging on the Ukrainian part of the Danube", commented Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Deputy Prime Minister for the Reconstruction of Ukraine - the Minister of Community Development, Territories and Infrastructure.
He also added that it became the first time during the Ukrainian independence when we could increase the vessel draft. "This gives up an opportunity to ensure more efficient and safe navigation between the Black Sea and the Danube River, as well as to step up the cargo flow through the Danube ports," Kubrakov emphasized.
The vessel draft in the Bystre estuary has been increased owing to the elimination of the effects of drifting, removal of sediments from the bottom, elimination of rollovers and restoration of passport characteristics of water areas of Ukraine's seaports.
Operational works on the Ukrainian part of the Danube are implemented in cooperation with the European Commission, Romania, and the Danube Commission which is responsible for ensuring and developing free navigation on the Danube for commercial vessels.