Black Sea Freeze Hitting Major Ports and Affecting Grain Exports

The severe cold  across eastern Europe is raising concerns about grain-shipments  as icy conditions restrict navigation at some of the region’s most important ports, Bloomberg reports.

Severe freeze  is affecting  vessels at Bulgaria’s Varna port and navigation in the Hungarian part of the Danube river has been suspended. Romania’s major grain-exporting hub of Constanta was disrupted last week and also at least three ports in Ukraine’s Odessa region have limited ship movements due to ice.

As forecasters expect another cold spell next week in Ukraine, traders are concerned ports may close again and slow exports. The Black Sea region accounts for about a quarter of the world’s grain shipments and further disruptions may help boost wheat and corn prices.

In Bulgaria, ship movement is suspended in some parts at the port of Varna, while terminals at Burgas have reopened after closing on Tuesday.  There’s no information yet that grain exports will be impacted and shipments are taking place as normal, the Agriculture and Food Ministry said.

Ice-related restrictions mean ship loading may be slightly slower in Reni, Izmail and Ust-Dunaysk in Ukraine’s Odessa region, according to a spokesman for the nation’s Administration of Seaports, and the Infrastructure Ministry. Other ports in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Mykolayiv, and Oktyabrsk have taken similar measures.

In the Hungarian section of the Danube, ice breakers are in use near Gyor by the Austrian border and on the Tisza river close to Szeged near Serbia to clear way for ports, a spokeswoman for the National Water Authority said. Hungary is a large corn producer.

Traders are also closely watching weather conditions because severe cold can damage crops during winter dormancy.

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