Ukraine grain backlog eases, then rises again

Faster ship inspections had resulted in the easing of a logjam of vessels shipping Ukrainian crops, but the backlog remained high.

However, by thwe weekend the backlog had risen back to its previous peak.

As part of the Black Sea Corridor agreement, outbound ships need to be inspected in Istanbul under the deal. The average per day has picked up to around a dozen, compared with between seven and nine before it because clear that the queue of ships on both sides of the Bosphorus was lengthening by the day.

The number of inspection teams was increased to five, according to Amir Abdulla, UN coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

One reason for the increase in the number of ships looking to transport grain out of Ukraine is that there are increasing fears that the 120-day agreement, due to expire in November, might not be renewed.

By last Tuesday the backlog of inbound and outbound vessels awaiting checks had fallen to 131, down from 156 on Friday October 14th.

However a UN spokesperson said on Monday that “urgent” steps were needed to relieve a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a deal which allows Ukraine to export grain from ports in the Black Sea. “There are currently over 150 vessels waiting around Istanbul to move and these delays have the potential to cause disruptions to the supply chain and port operations,” said Ismini Palla, UN spokesperson for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The Joint Coordination centre for the initiative, based in Istanbul, said that about 8.5m tons of grain and other food products had been exported under the deal by October 23rd, about 379 outbound voyages.