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Grain thunders into rail wagons and vehicles whizz around a storage facility based in central Ukraine, where a rising number of enterprises have turned as they battle to ship food to people suffering from famines worldwide.


More grain is being unloaded now from the overcrowded silos and moving to Black Sea ports, where it will transit a budding shipping corridor established when Russia reportedly dropped out of a U.N.-brokered accord this summer that enabled food to move safely from Ukraine amid the war.

Things were tight. Nevertheless, they kept working… After the grain deal expired in July, they looked for ways to accept every ton of product required by their partners, explained Roman Andreikiv, the facility’s general director. Ukraine’s new military-protected route has enabled him to open up storage space and boost activity.

Despite the prospect of attack as well as floating explosive mines, a growing number of vessels are flocking to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and setting sail loaded with grain, metals, and other cargo. It is boosting Ukraine’s agricultural economy and restoring a critical source of grain, barley, wheat, sunflower oil, and other affordable food goods for portions of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where prices locally have soared, and food insecurity is increasing.

They are witnessing increasing confidence among commercial operators eager to take Ukrainian grain cargo, says Munro Anderson, the chief of operations with Vessel Protect, which evaluates and ensures conflict risks at sea.

Ihor Osmachko, the General Director of Agroprosperis Group, one of Ukraine’s largest agricultural producers and exporters, says he is more confident than he was two months ago.

Since its first vessel left in mid-September, the business claims to have carried over 300,000 metric tons of grain to China, Bangladesh, Egypt, Spain, the Netherlands, Tunisia, and Turkey.

Following the termination of the UN-mediated deal, Russia attacked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and grain infrastructure, damaging sufficient supplies to feed more than one million individuals for a year, according to the UK government.

The risk to vessels is the most significant barrier to the new shipping channel. This summer, Russia warned that ships coming to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be deemed to be loaded with weapons.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that while friends have promised to supply ships to assist his country in protecting commercial vessels in the Black Sea, more air defence systems are required.

Air defence is currently in short supply, he warned reporters at an international food security forum in Kyiv on Saturday. But what matters is that there are agreements with a positive signal, and the corridor is also operational.

While a tragic missile assault on the port of Odesa this month injured a Liberian-flagged commercial ship, insurers, brokers, and banks joined together with the Ukrainian government in announcing cost-effective coverage for Black Sea grain exports, providing shippers with peace of mind.

Despite the attacks, Ukraine has shipped nearly 5.6 million metric tons of grain plus other products via the new route, according to the US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink. Before the war, it was roughly double that each month, according to Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Deputy Economy Minister.

Kelly Goughary, a senior research analyst at agriculture data and analytics business Gro Intelligence, says that the current transportation method is much more expensive and time-consuming.

But she said they are getting product out the door, which is better than many people expected with the grain effort ending.


Iran’s navy added a cruise missile-launching destroyer to the Caspian Sea fleet on Monday, according to state media. The 1,400-ton Deilaman, named after a town in the north of the country, is 95 meters in length and 11 meters in breadth and can shoot torpedoes at 30 knots, per the IRNA news agency.

The article states that Deilaman can identify more than 100 targets at the same time, including warships, drones, helicopters, submarines, and aircraft.

Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, described the Caspian as a sea of harmony and friendship and stated Iran’s naval power there would promote the security of commercial fleets by confronting terrorists and likely events in the future.

This is Iran’s sixth warship to be commissioned in the Caspian Sea, the world’s biggest inland body of water shared by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran.

In recent years, Iranian vessels have visited Russian and Azerbaijani naval ports in the sea. Still, Iran has also attacked Azerbaijan for close military connections with Israel, which Iran regards as its archenemy.

While Russia is the most powerful naval force in the Caspian, Iran has attempted to establish a naval presence across the sea since the latter part of the 1960s and has steadily increased its strength since the 1990s. Iran also maintains three naval bases on the sea’s coast.

A small yard in Geoje, South Korea has launched a modern update of a motor-sail cargo vessel for the Marshall Islands' government shipping company, building on an idea trialed with economical sailing vessels like the SV Kwai. 

The future Juren AE is a 300-ton coastal freighter designed for the South Pacific inter-island trade. It was commissioned by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and designed by a team from Emden/Leer University of Applied Sciences, Kostec, and Asia Shipbuilding Co., a small yard based in the Korean shipbuilding hub of Geoje. 

Sail-driven cargo vessels have a better business case when fuel prices are high, as they are in the remote islands of the Pacific. Sailing rigs are labor-intensive to operate, but this particular ship will be fitted with a partially-automated sailing system based on the INDOSAIL design, a German-Indonesian invention with roots at Hamburg's ship model basin (HSVA). 

The design should have a service speed of about 12 knots when under sail, and seven knots with an auxiliary diesel engine when required. If there is more wind power than needed, the propeller can turn a generator via a hybrid transmission, charging up a battery rack. For low-speed maneuvering, the battery-electric drive can put that power back to use. The vessel will also have a solar panel system for onboard power.

In all, the designers believe that its emissions will be 80 percent lower than the carbon output of a conventional vessel of the same size, and they hope to get all the way to carbon neutrality in the future. 

"Despite the relatively simple and cost-effective construction concept, there are many innovations in the ship that are exemplary for future zero-emission shipping," said Prof. Captain Michael Vahs from Emden/Leer University.

Juren AE launched on Wednesday, and when it is complete, a team from Emden/Leer will help the Marshall Islands Shipping Company build familiarity with the vessel and its systems. The ship could be a template for other shipping projects, the partners say, and it will likely be open to viewers in an open house in Geoje in February 2024. 


Indian Ministry of External Affairs will decide if ships sanctioned by the U.S Treasury Department will enter India or not. The three vessels, Kazan, NS Century and Ligovsky Prospect, are registered with UAE-based companies and are en route to India.

The U.S. government has accused these ships of exporting Russian crude oil at the rate of over USD 60 per barrel after the price cap on Russian crude was brought about. This development came when Russia invaded Ukraine and aimed to decrease Russia’s oil revenues that it gets from selling its crude oil. 

However, a rise in prices of oil across the world has led to incidents where Russian crude was bought by some. Hence, the US targeted shipping companies and insurers that engage in Russian crude oil transportation.

Shyam Jagannathan, Director General of Shipping, has made it clear that the port rules and regulations do not restrict the entry of these ships into India, which are now moving towards Gujrat’s Vadinar, which is not a major port. Vadinar was taken over by Russian Rosneft in 2016.

India is also preparing for the PM Maritime Amritkaal Vision to make India the global maritime leader by 2047. This includes the modernisation of Indian ports by 2047, building green tugs at Cochin Shipyard, opening new opportunities for export and setting up Green Hydrogen Hubs at Den Dayal Port and VO Chidambarananar ports.

Per an official statement, around 177 projects have been completed at Major Ports in 2022-23, while 162 projects are still at different stages of implementation with an investment of over one lakh crore.


This agreement aims to enhance maritime trade via the Caspian Sea, the largest inland body of water in the world. The signing of this deal is a testament to India’s shipbuilding capabilities and the nation’s commitment to bolstering ties with Russia.

The construction of the first four ships will commence in the 1st quarter of 2024 at a shipyard in Goa. Three kinds of ships, including chemical tankers, container ships, and bulk carriers, will be built. All 24 vessels will be handed over to Moscow before 2027, per reports.

This move comes following the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, which has prompted Moscow to redirect its trade routes towards the east. India, a growing economy with a strategic geographical location and technological capabilities, appears to be the ideal collaborator.

Also, though the Caspian Sea goes unnoticed in global shipping, it has witnessed a rise in shipping activities. Nestled between Asia and Europe and bordering Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea has become an important water body for Russia’s revised trade routes.

ONE has completed its acquisition of a 51% stake TraPac and Yusen Terminals (YTI) on the US West Coast, as well as 20% in Rotterdam Global Gateway in Europe. The stakes were previously held by NYK and Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), both major shareholders in ONE.

TraPac is a container terminal operator and vessel stevedore that provides container terminal services in Los Angeles and Oakland. YTI is a container terminal operator and vessel stevedore that provides container terminal services in Los Angeles. The terminals have a combined capacity of 4.3 million.

Meanwhile MOL previously held a stake in the 2.6 million teu capacity RWG facility in the Port of Rotterdam and ONE now has a 20% stake in this terminal.

Hiroki Tsujii, Managing Director of ONE’s Product & Network Division, commented: “Container terminals are a critical link in the supply chain with the unique ability to cushion the impact of operating disruptions. ONE will leverage these terminals to help customers manage supply chain disruptions and improve service quality. In addition, these assets will enable ONE to deliver faster and more reliable service to our customers.”

In July ONE CEO Jeremy Nixon said the company was looking to acquire more terminal assets primarily in the form of assets owned by its parent companies – NYK, MOL and K-Line.

The latest acquisitions give ONE a footprint in key hubs in on the US West Coast, Rotterdam, and in Southeast Asia with an existing 49% stake in Magenta Singapore Terminals in a joint venture with PSA Singapore.

Thursday, 19 October 2023 06:30

U.S. Easing Venezuela Oil Sanctions

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is easing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector almost immediately in response to a 2024 election deal reached between the Venezuelan government and the country’s opposition, a senior U.S. State Department official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The U.S. imposed tough sanctions on Venezuela to punish President Nicolas Maduro’s government following his 2018 re-election, which the U.S. and other Western governments rejected as a sham. Since 2019, U.S. sanctions have banned state-run oil company PDVSA from exporting to its chosen markets. 

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. was broadly relaxing energy-related sanctions but was prepared to reverse those steps if Maduro’s government fails to lift a ban on opposition presidential candidates and release political prisoners.

The Biden administration, which had long promised sanctions relief in return for democratic concessions from Maduro, is issuing licenses and authorizations that will include allowing Caracas to resume business with Caribbean nations, the official said.

It marks a significant step in the Biden administration’s increased engagement with Venezuela, moving away from former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the socialist-governed OPEC-member state.

The U.S. moves followed an agreement reached in Barbados on Tuesday between Maduro’s government and the U.S.-backed opposition on electoral guarantees for an internationally monitored vote to be held in the second half of 2024.

But the deal did not remove bans on opposition candidates the government had barred from public office and made no mention of freeing political prisoners, falling short of what the U.S. wanted to see.

The U.S. welcomes the election agreement but considers it “a partial agreement toward an electoral roadmap,” the official said, adding the U.S. was ready to take more steps around Venezuela’s crucial energy sector. “Today, tomorrow, it’s going to happen quickly.”

The official warned, however, that U.S. decisions on relaxed sanctions would depend on Maduro complying with the latest agreement and working toward free and fair elections.

“We’re willing to take specific actions, but if they fail to live up to their commitments, we can certainly withdraw those positive incentives,” the official said.

The official also expressed optimism that the process would lead to the release in a “relatively near term” of Americans jailed in Venezuela and designed by the U.S. as wrongfully detained. 


The talks between the government and the opposition, meant to provide a way out of Venezuela’s long-running political and economic crisis, will continue at an unspecified date, the parties said.

The deal says each side can choose its 2024 candidate according to its internal rules, but did not reverse bans on some opposition figures – including Oct. 22 primary frontrunner Maria Corina Machado – that prevent them from holding office.

An opposition source in Caracas on Wednesday said there remained much to be done, and that lifting bans was the crux of negotiations. Some opposition figures told Reuters on Monday they doubt Maduro’s administration will follow through on the election pledges.

But another opposition source said the deal did secure some concessions from Maduro.

Maduro, president since 2013, is expected to run for re-election but has not yet formalized his candidacy.

Russia’s oil flows are steadily climbing again after months of careful adherence to a pact with Saudi Arabia to keep barrels off the global market.

The nation’s seaborne crude exports rebounded in the seven days to Oct. 15, boosting four-week average flows to their highest in more than three months.

About 3.51 million barrels a day of crude was shipped from Russian ports last week, a rise of about 285,000 barrels a day from the previous seven days, tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg show. That lifted the less volatile four-week average to about 3.36 million barrels a day.

The increase came from a jump in Black Sea flows to a six-week high and a recovery in shipments from the Arctic port of Murmansk after a slump in the previous week.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in early August that Moscow would prolong export restrictions at a reduced level of 300,000 barrels a day below their May-June average until the end of the year. Bloomberg calculations indicate that shipments through ports should be running now at about 3.28 million barrels a day.

Four-week average shipments have been creeping up relative to that target since the start of September, exceeding it by abut 80,000 barrels a day in the most recent period. That said, compliance has so far been good compared with the country’s past performance against OPEC+ targets. Since the export restriction was introduced at the start of August, flows have averaged about 15,000 barrels a day below their required level, assuming pipeline deliveries have remained unchanged.

The increase in volumes raised the Kremlin’s weekly revenues from oil export duties, while the four-week average rose for an 11th straight week, setting a new high for the period since mid-January.

Russia’s rising oil income has called into question the effectiveness of the price cap imposed on its exports by the Group of Seven nations and European Union that’s supposed to restrict it. The US Treasury responded by imposing sanctions on two tankers accused of carrying cargoes sold at prices above the $60-a-barrel ceiling.  The sanctions are the first time there’s been an effort to enforce the cap since it came into effect in December.

Russia’s oil refiners are increasing daily processing rates as October progresses. Oil processing in the country rose by the most in more than a month in the week ended Oct. 11. But ongoing maintenance and temporary diesel export restrictions, which have now been lifted, meant that rates during the Oct. 1-11 period totaled about 150,000 barrels a day below the average for most of September.

Flows by Destination

Russia’s seaborne crude flows rose in four weeks to Oct. 15 averaged 3.36 million barrels a day. That’s the highest since July 4 and up from 3.26 million barrels a day in the period to Oct. 8. Shipments remain about 220,000 barrels a day below the highs seen between April and June.

All figures exclude cargoes identified as Kazakhstan’s KEBCO grade. Those are shipments made by KazTransoil JSC that transit Russia for export through Novorossiysk and the Baltic port of Ust-Luga and are not subject to European Union sanctions or a price cap.

The Kazakh barrels are blended with crude of Russian origin to create a uniform export grade. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan has rebranded its cargoes to distinguish them from those shipped by Russian companies. 


Observed shipments to Russia’s Asian customers, including those showing no final destination, rose for a third week. Flows edged higher to 2.95 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Oct. 15, from a revised 2.86 million barrels a day in the period to Oct. 8. That’s still well below a peak of about 3.6 million barrels a day seen in May. 

Even if all of the cargoes on ships without an initial destination eventually end up in India, shipments to the country will still be about 450,000 barrels a day, or 21%, down from their May high. Adding the “Unknown Asia” and “Other Unknown” volumes to the total for India gives a figure of 1.7 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Oct. 15. That’s the most in 15 weeks, but down from a high of 2.15 million barrels a day in the period to May 21. 

The equivalent of about 210,000 barrels a day was on vessels signaling Port Said or Suez in Egypt, or are expected to be transferred from one ship to another off the South Korean port of Yeosu. Those voyages typically end at ports in India or China and show up in the chart below as “Unknown Asia” until a final destination becomes apparent.

The “Other Unknown” volumes, running at about 260,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Oct. 15, are those on tankers showing no clear destination. Most of those cargoes originate from Russia’s western ports and go on to transit the Suez Canal, but some could end up in Turkey. Others could be moved from one vessel to another, with most such transfers now taking place in the Mediterranean.


Russia’s seaborne crude exports to European countries fell to equal their lowest level in 14 weeks of about 125,000 barrels a day in the 28 days to Oct. 15, with Bulgaria the sole destination. These figures do not include shipments to Turkey.

A market that consumed about 1.5 million barrels a day of short-haul seaborne crude, coming from export terminals in the Baltic, Black Sea and Arctic has been lost almost completely, to be replaced by long-haul destinations in Asia that are much more costly and time-consuming to serve.

No Russian crude was shipped to northern European countries in the four weeks to Oct. 15.

Exports to Turkey, Russia’s only remaining Mediterranean customer, jumped to about 290,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Oct. 15. That’s the highest in eleven months. Flows had topped 425,000 barrels a day in October 2022, before falling sharply after a Group of Seven price cap came into effect in early December.

The jump in flows comes after Lukoil resumed deliveries to the Azerbaijani-owned Star refinery at Aliaga. Supplies are expected at about 100,000 barrels a day, equivalent to half of the refinery’s capacity.

Flows to Bulgaria, now Russia’s only Black Sea market for crude, fell to a six-week low of about 125,000 barrels a day. High levels of imports seen in recent weeks have come despite lawmakers recently approving a motion to end Bulgaria’s dependence on Russian crude sooner than permitted under a European Union import ban.

Flows by Export Location

Aggregate flows of Russian crude rebounded, making up more than half of the previous week’s drop. Seaborne exports averaged 3.51 million barrels a day in the seven days to Oct. 15. The increase of about 285,000 barrels a day was driven by higher flows from the Arctic and the Black Sea.

Figures exclude volumes from Ust-Luga and Novorossiysk identified as Kazakhstan’s KEBCO grade.

Vessel-tracking data are cross-checked against port agent reports as well as flows and ship movements reported by other information providers including Kpler and Vortexa Ltd.

Export Revenue

Inflows to the Kremlin’s war chest from its crude-export duty jumped to $80 million in the seven days to Oct. 15, while four-week average income edged up to $73 million. The four-week average set a new high for the period since mid-January. Rising oil prices and the rebound in flows are both contributing to the increase in receipts.

Russia’s government calculates oil taxes — including export duty — using a discount to global benchmark Brent, which sets the floor price for the nation’s crude for budget purposes. If Russian oil trades above that threshold, the Finance Ministry uses the market price for tax calculations, as has been the case in recent months. The discount used to calculate taxes including export duty is set at $20 a barrel for September and subsequent months.

The duty rate for October has been set at $3.26 a barrel, based on an average Urals price of $77.03 during the calculation period between Aug. 15 and Sept. 14. That was $11.60 a barrel below Brent over the same period. October’s duty rate sets a new high for the year. The rate for November has been set at $3.57 a barrel, based on an average Urals price of $83.35 during the calculation period between Sept. 15 and Oct. 14. That was about  $7.70 a barrel below Brent over the same period. November’s duty rate sets a new high for the year.


Origin-to-Location Flows

The following charts show the number of ships leaving each export terminal and the destinations of crude cargoes from the four export regions.

A total of 32 tankers loaded 24.6 million barrels of Russian crude in the week to Oct. 15, vessel-tracking data and port agent reports show. That’s up 2 million barrels from the previous week.

A jump in shipments from Ust-Luga in the Baltic more than offset a drop in the number of vessels leaving nearby Primorsk.

Destinations are based on where vessels signal they are heading at the time of writing, and some will almost certainly change as voyages progress. All figures exclude cargoes identified as Kazakhstan’s KEBCO grade.

The total volume on ships loading Russian crude from the Baltic terminals was unchanged, averaging 1.56 million barrels a day for a third week.

Shipments of Russian crude from Novorossiysk jumped to 625,000 barrels a day, equal to the highest since the week ending July 2.

Two cargoes of Kazakh crude were loaded at the port during the week, up from one during the previous seven days.

Two Suezmax tankers completed loading cargoes at the Arctic port of Murmansk in the week to Oct. 15, boosting flows to about 285,000 barrels a day.

Two tankers were drifting outside the port waiting to load at the end of the week.

Ten tankers loaded at Russia’s three Pacific export terminals, down by two from the previous week. The volume of crude shipped from the region fell to just over 1 million barrels a day, down by 200,000 barrels a day from the previous seven days.

The drop in flows was driven by fewer ships lading Sokol grade from the terminal at De Kastri and no tankers completing loading of Sakhalin Blend crude. Shipments from the Sakhalin Island terminal are running at one every other week.

The volumes heading to unknown destinations are Sokol cargoes that are currently being shuttled to an area off the South Korean port of Yosu from the loading terminal at De Kastri. Most of these are ending up in India.

U.S. container import volume unexpectedly rose slightly in September compared to the previous month, contrary to the typical decline seen in the last third of the year, according to the latest Global Shipping Report released by Descartes Systems Group (Nasdaq: DSGX) (TSX:DSG) on Monday.

U.S. container import volumes in September increased by 0.3% compared to August, reaching a total of 2,203,452 TEUs. Compared to September 2022, TEU volume was slightly lower by 0.6%, but marked an increase of 8.0% from the pre-pandemic September 2019 levels.

The growth in import volume over the first nine months of 2023 is now within 2.5% of the same period in 2019.

Descartes’ report highlights that imports from China saw a notable increase, contributing to a larger share of Chinese imports in the total U.S. imports. Interestingly, despite the rise in volume, port transit times for the top West Coast ports remained close to their lowest levels since Descartes began tracking them. However, the top East and Gulf Coast ports experienced extended transit times.

While the Panama drought does not seem to be impacting U.S. container import volume, it has led to increased transit times. According to the logistics metrics tracked by Descartes, there are some deviations from the 2019 results and indications that certain key challenges to global supply chain performance in 2023 have stabilized, while others have not.

Commenting on the unexpected increase, Chris Jones, EVP Industry Descartes, stated, “The September increase in U.S. container imports defies the traditional fall decline observed over the past six years, and imports from China played a significant role in these results. While the Panama drought does not seem to be affecting Gulf Coast port volumes, port transit times are beginning to extend.”

Descartes’ report coincides with the latest data from the National Retail Federation, which revealed that September imports are projected at 1.94 million TEUs, a slight decrease from the 1.96 TEUs imported in August. It is important to note that the NRF’s figures for September are not yet final.


“Considering the growing demands of China-made automobile from Southeast Asia, Cosco Shipping Car Carriers and Cosco Shipping Specialized Carriers have jointly conduct market research in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore to further develop the ASEAN market,” according to Cosco Shipping Car Carriers.

During the first five months, China exported 69,100 units of automobile to Thailand, posting a substantial growth rate of 140%. Launching of the newly upgraded service will provide a solid support for automobile transportation in the ASEAN area.

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