Ukraine’s grain exports were running at 85% of pre-conflict levels prior to Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the UN backed Black Sea Grain Initiative. Volumes shipped under the initiative have totaled over 9 MMT since the start of August, according to data compiled by Clarksons. Shipments had been running at 1.1 MMT per week from mid-September to late October vessel movement data showed. Prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine had a 10% share of global seaborne grain exports with 50 MMT out of a total 528 MMT of grain moved by sea in 2021. “Exports under the initiative so far have been shipped from the ports of Chornomorsk (37%), Odessa (37%) and Yuzhny (25%), while major destinations have been Turkey, China, Egypt and Mediterranean EU countries including Spain and Italy,” said Clarksons.

Handysize vessels have carried the largest share of volumes since start-August of around 44%, with Handymax’s carrying 29% and panamaxes 26%. The average age of vessels involved so far has been 16.9 years versus 11.5 years for the wider bulk carrier fleet, Clarksons said. “Ukrainian seaborne grain exports typically reach seasonal peak levels in either the third quarter following the wheat harvest in the region or the fourth quarter following the corn harvest, and with storage levels extremely high given the effective suspension of exports across February-July, had the potential to pick up further in the coming months,” said Clarksons.

The deal was due for renewal in November for a further 120 days. “Russia’s suspension of involvement in the initiative on 29th October has led to major uncertainty around shipment volumes and vessel movements. “Even in the short-term, though a convoy of laden vessels sailed from Ukrainian ports on 31st October, and Turkish and UN delegations have so far continued to provide inspection teams in order to continue fulfilling the initiative,” the broker added.

Monday saw a record volume of 354,500 tons of agricultural products carried on vessels leaving Ukraine ports under the initiative, a spokesman for Odessa’s military administration, was quoted as saying by Reuters. Russia said on Saturday that it was pulling out of the deal after what it said was a “major Ukrainian drone attack” on its fleet in Crimea.