Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta has smashed its grain export record this year thanks to a surge in shipments from Ukraine, the port authority told Reuters, with its capacity set to grow as infrastructure projects advance.
The port shipped 32.6 million metric tonnes of grain in January-November, it said. Its previous annual record was a little over 25 million tonnes.
Ukrainian grain accounted for roughly 40% of the total, the port added, or 13 million tonnes, up from 11.7 million at the end of October and from 8.6 million in the whole of 2022.
Ukraine is one of the world's biggest grain exporters, and Constanta has become Kyiv's largest alternative export route since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, with grains arriving by road, rail and barge across the Danube.
But its transit volumes have fallen in recent months as Russia has repeatedly struck its river ports that lie across the Danube from European Union and NATO member Romania, while road border crossings into Poland and Slovakia were blocked by local truckers seeking restrictions on Ukrainian drivers.
Romania aims to boost its transit capacity for Ukrainian grain to 4 million tonnes per month, and it is currently upgrading rail and road infrastructure in and around the port using EU funds.
Earlier this month, Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said an EU-funded project to enable round-the-clock navigation on the Danube river's Sulina canal, which goes to Constanta, had been finalised and would become operational pending staff training.
Moldova, bordering Romania and Ukraine, is also upgrading checkpoints and railroad infrastructure to help transit.
Ukraine's government expects a harvest of 81.3 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds in 2023, with its 2023/24 exportable surplus totalling about 50 million tonnes.