Razoni heads through Bosphorus, hopes for weekend arrival in Lebanon

Razoni (IMO 9086526), the first bulk carrier to leave a Ukrainian port carrying grain since Russia invaded the country in February, yesterday passed inspection and was heading through the Bosphorus on August 3rd en route to grain-starved Lebanon. It was hoped that the vessel would dock in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, within four or five days.

The Razoni had left the major Ukrainian port of Odesa on the Black Sea early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn. It successfully traversed the black Sea via an agreed “corridor” and anchored at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait on Tuesday night.

The ship entered the Bosphorus Strait at around 11:30 GMT on Wednesday following the completion of the inspection by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel working at a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in nearby Istanbul.

Ukraine said it had 17 more vessels loaded with agricultural products that were ready to sail.

Inspection personnel boarded the Razoni after two boats ferried them from a small fishing port at Istanbul’s Rumeli Feneri to the ship. The Razoni was circled by two coast guard boats while a helicopter flew over.

The JCC said the clearing of the ship after a three-hour inspection concluded the initial “proof of concept” operation.

The JCC noted that the inspection team gained “valuable information” from the crew about the Razoni’s journey, and said that this would be used to finetune procedures to continue the safe passage of commercial vessels under the deal.

A senior Turkish official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters that three ships a day might leave the three Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, instead of the previously planned one.

The 120-day deal will be extended a month at a time if exports are not completed due to the weather or problems with inspections, the official said. He felt that the initial period appeared sufficient for Ukrainian silos to be emptied.

However, even at three ships a day, if ships the same size as the Razoni are used it would take 10 months to clear the 20m tonnes currently reported as piled up in silos near Odesa. Presumably therefore a scaling up in the average size of the bulk carriers to be used is planned.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that more outbound movement was being planned from Ukraine on Wednesday August 3rd.

1996-built, Sierra Leone-flagged, 18,495 gt Razoni is owned and managed by Razoni Shipping Ltd of Monrovia, Liberia. It is entered with MS Amlin on behalf of Razoni Shipping Ltd.