10 Mar 2023 12:45

Ukraine and Romania may jointly measure Danube River depth for dredging efforts

MOSCOW. March 10 (Interfax) - Ukrainian and Romanian representatives discussed the possibility of jointly checking the depth of parts of the Danube River in light of dredging operations at a meeting mediated by the European Commission, Ukrainian media outlets said, citing information circulated by the Sea Port Authority of Ukraine on social media.

The parties also discussed steps to improve navigation, including by looking for ways to improve pilotage of vessels in the joint Ukrainian-Romanian section of the Dabube River to increase the number of vessels' entries to Danube ports.

"The European Commission's support is highly important to the ports of the Danube cluster today. Danube ports have made significant progress over the past year in developing their export capabilities - cargo transshipment has tripled, and more than 17 million tonnes of products have been exported. As regards the import of necessary goods, the ports of the Danube region alone are ensuring it now," the Sea Port Authority said, adding that developing efficient and safe navigation along the Danube River is possible only thanks to Ukraine's productive and well-coordinated cooperation with colleagues from the European Commission, neighboring Romania and the Danube Commission.

At the meeting, the European Commission was represented by Deputy Director-General for the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport Maja Bakran, Ukraine by Deputy Minister for Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Yury Vaskov, and Romania by State Chancellor in the prime minister's cabinet and State Secretary of the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry Ionel Scriosteanu. Danube Commission representatives were also in attendance.

Vaskov said at the meeting Romania is concerned that such work on the waterway through the shared territory of the Danube Delta might endanger the wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage site and violate international environment protection treaties. No efforts to increase the depth of the Danube River are currently ongoing.

Vaskov said earlier that Romania had officially been notified about dredging operations (sediment management) back in August 2022. No comments from the Romanian side were received then.

According to the Sea Port Authority, increasing the depth of the Danube River will allow Ukraine to boost grain exports amid limited access to the Black Sea ports.

The European Commission launched the Solidarity Lanes initiative in May 2022 to support Ukraine and to establish efficient logistics routes to export its agricultural products and import necessary foods, it said. One of the program's key goals is to improve water trade routes connecting the European Union and Ukraine.

As reported earlier, a deeper canal will make it possible to export an additional 500,000 tonnes of grain a month.

Ukraine has completed its efforts to increase the navigable depth of the Danube River's Bystre canal to 6.5 meters at the section from the canal's zero kilometer to the 77th kilometer of the Danube's Chilia branch. The navigable depth from the 77th kilometer to the 116th kilometer of this canal is 7 meters. The maximum depth at this section was 3.9 meters before the crisis.

Exporters shipped 8.6 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain via Romania's Constanta Port on the Black Sea coast in 2022. Iron ore exports through this port began in May of that year. A total of 1.3 million tonnes of iron ore and other metals and mining sector products delivered by sea or by river were transshipped via the Constanta Port between February 24 and October 5, 2022. Ukrainian ferrous metals, cast iron and steel are also being exported via this port.

The Bystre canal was opened to navigation on July 9, 2022.