Mined waters slow rush to extract grains from Ukraine
From a a@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 27 05:06:42 2022
Shipping companies are not rushing to export millions of tons of trapped grain out of Ukraine, despite a breakthrough deal to provide safe corridors through the Black Sea.
That is because explosive mines are drifting in the waters, ship owners are assessing the risks and many still have questions over how the deal will unfold.
The complexities of the agreement have set off a slow, cautious start, but it’s only good for 120 days — and the clock began ticking last week.
The goal over the next four months is to get some 20 million tons of grain out of three Ukrainian sea ports blocked since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. That provides time for about four to five large bulk carriers per day to transport grain from the ports
to millions of impoverished people worldwide who are facing hunger.
It also provides ample time for things to go awry. Only hours after the signing Friday, Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s port of Odesa — one of those included in the agreement.
Another key element of the deal offers assurances that shipping and insurers carrying Russian grain and fertilizer will not get caught in the wider net of Western sanctions. But the agreement brokered by Turkey and the U.N. is running up against the
reality of how difficult and risky the pact will be to carry out.
“We have to work very hard to now understand the detail of how this is going to work practically,” said Guy Platten, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, which says it represents national shipowners associations, accounting for
about 80% of the world’s merchant fleet.
“Can we make sure and guarantee the safety of the crews? What’s going to happen with the mines and the minefields, as well? So lots of uncertainty and unknowns at the moment,” he said.
Getting wheat and other food out is critical to farmers in Ukraine, who are running out of storage capacity as they harvest their fields. Those grains are vital to millions of people in Africa, parts of the Middle East and South Asia, who are already
facing food shortages and, in some cases, famine.
Ukraine and Russia are key global suppliers of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil, with fighting in the Black Sea region, known as the “breadbasket of the world,” pushing up food prices, threatening political stability in developing nations and
leading countries to ban some food exports, worsening the crisis.