Shipping procedures into Ukraine still not ready, says Roberts

Several procedures for ships still need to be worked out before empty vessels will be able to arrive in Ukrainian ports to collect cargoes and then take them across the Black Sea using new maritime corridors, according to Neil Roberts, head of marine and aviation with the Lloyd’s Market Association.

Speaking to Reuters on Monday, Roberts said that “the standard operating procedures for vessels still need to be worked out and there are issues about crewing that still need to be resolved. There is some way to go”.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday August 1st that the standard operating procedures would be finalized shortly and would then be made public.

Ships going in to collect a cargo will need to be inspected by the JCC at a Turkish port, unlike vessels already in Ukrainian ports that are waiting to leave. “The new ships present a different set of logistical challenges and this will take some days. This is something the JCC Istanbul is still wrestling with,” Roberts said, adding that “there needs to be patience to await developments, as this is still a live conflict.”

The Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni carrying grain left the Ukrainian port of Odesa for Lebanon earlier on Monday under a safe passage agreement – the first departure since the Russian invasion blocked shipping through the Black Sea five months ago. The Razoni had been sitting inside Ukraine for some months. Referring to the departure of the Razoni, Roberts said that “it remains a case of steady but cautious progress”.

Roberts said that the Joint War Committee met on Monday to share information on the situation. He said that the market was waiting for more details on the procedures for inbound vessels to Ukraine.

Some 80 ships remain stuck in Ukraine’s ports, most of them with only a warm lay-up crew currently in place, as most of the crew were evacuated as soon as was possible after the Russian invasion on February 24th. Roberts said that, unless cover had expired (in which case it would need to be renegotiated) those vessels were still covered

Chris Oliver of the International Chamber of Shipping said that “much work still remains to ensure that we can safely export the roughly 5m tonnes of grain per month proposed by the UN. This will be a challenge, but our industry is resilient and is used to keeping trade flowing no matter what.”