The middle and lower parts of the Danube have been closed to navigation since July 25 due to a sharp drop in water levels, a circumstance that forces ships of the Ukrainian Danube Navigation Company to carry smaller cargoes, Ukrainian media said.
The largest number of vessels in the fleet of the Ukrainian Danube Navigation Company is concentrated in these districts, said the company’s general director, Dmytro Moskalenko.
“The convoys of the Ukrainian Danube Navigation Company now have to operate under extreme conditions. This exceptionally difficult navigation situation has caused our ships to carry smaller cargoes, which negatively affects cargo traffic volumes,” Moskalenko said on social media.
Measurements at the Cernavoda water gauging station show that water levels there have dropped by several meters compared to July 2021. While the draft of Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company vessels was 2.1 meters last week, this week it was only 1.8 meters in the direction of Constanta, Moskalenko said.
“Compared to operations under routine conditions, the weight of cargo carried by ships has decreased by a third – from 1,600 to 1,500 tonnes on average to 1,000 tonnes,” he said.
The Danube low water season usually peaks in September-October, Moskalenko said. However, this year the water levels have already dropped critically due to the absence of rain in the Danube region and its main tributaries (Sava, Drava, Tisza and Morava) due to the abnormal heat wave of this year in Europe.
“It is difficult to predict how the situation will develop. In any case, we cannot allow the navigation to stop and will work in conditions with the minimum possible draft. But as long as the major ports of Odessa remain closed, the Danube region will remain the only gateway available for the transport of grain to Europe,” he said.
Source: Interfax Ukraine