Across the Danube from Ukraine: Romania allows wheat to be transported at night

Across the Danube from Ukraine
Romania allows wheat transport at night

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The River Administration in Romania announces that it will lighten the Danube around the Sulina arm. This makes it possible to cross this route even at night. Romania especially helps Ukraine in this process.

To improve the transportation of Ukrainian goods to the world, the Sulina arm of the Romanian Danube Delta can be navigated not only during the day, but now also at night. The Lower Danube River Administration (AFDJ-RA) in Galati, eastern Romania, said the technical requirements were developed. Illuminated buoys are provided in the water and on the shores. 18 additional pilots and a modern digital navigation system are also available. Further dredging work is underway, the riverside management said.

Navigating the lower reaches of the Danube requires expert knowledge, as the river bed is not uniformly deep and vessels require different fairways depending on their size and load. Due to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, the transportation of Ukrainian wheat needed around the world through Ukrainian Black Sea ports has been disrupted. Romania's Danube Delta is part of an alternate route, like the eye of a barrier.

A difficult but necessary alternative

Ships must navigate the winding arms of the Danube with difficulty. According to the River Authority, 1,823 ships sailed up the Sulina Arm in the pre-war year 2021 – nearly double the 3,655 in 2022. The figure was 3,262 in the first nine months of this year. 60 percent of Ukrainian wheat exports currently go through Romania. From the Ukrainian Danube ports of Reni and Ismail, ships travel upstream of the Danube to the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta, then to the sea via Sulina or via the Cernavoda Canal.

Some of these exports also travel by rail, which was made possible by the repair of a Soviet-style broad-gauge link that had been unused for decades after the outbreak of war in Galati. The Sulina arm is the central main arm of the Danube in its delta at the mouth of the Black Sea. Of the three main branches, Sulina is the most straightforward because it has been mined over and over again for over a hundred years. The European Danube Commission, established in 1856, began this regulatory process – supported by the then empires of Russia, France, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, Prussia and the Kingdom of Sardinia.

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