Publicat pe 27/09/2014

In the context of the prolonged crisis in Ukraine, a logical conclusion is that Constanta Harbor will have something to gain on the long run. However, these winnings are seen for the time being only in tourist transport. Regarding the freight transport, things have not change almost at all since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine. Wining new business for Constanta Harbor is conditioned by transport investments, by transforming Constanta in a real transport hub, where freight can be taken by sea, river, railways and roads.

Good news for Constanta Harbor comes from the traffic of cruising ships. The Marketing Director of The National Company “Maritime Ports Administration” S.A. Constantza (APMC), George Vişan declared for that there are ships that have chosen Constanta Harbor as a destination, instead of Odessa, and Yalta, redrawing their initial itinerary. In this context, Constanta Harbor will become the number one destination in the Black Sea, and the initial estimations of a growth of 15% for the number of passengers arrived in Constanta at the board of passenger ships will be far surpassed.

This year, at the passenger terminal are programmed to arrive 95 cruise ships, a record registered by Constanta Harbor. In 2013, during the whole season, 69 ships, with 54.614 tourists arrived, and in 2012 – 52 ships, with 34.000 tourists. The list of cruise ships that have arrived and will arrive in Constanta Harbor can be consulted here.

Freight traffic – conditioned by intermodal transport

In regards with the freight transport through Constanta Harbor, APMC did not provide us with an actual situation, George Vişan limiting himself to declare that the differences are insignificant in comparison with the past years.

Laurenţiu Mironescu, the Service director of the towage company COREMAR SA, says that June was the weakest from this point of view, but the traffic improved in July and August, in comparison with the same months of the last year, probably due to the large production of cereals which was registered in a favorable forecast context.

Viorel Panait, the President of The Employer Organization “Port Operator” (composed of 33 portuary operators in Constanta, amongst which one can find Comves SA, Grup Servicii Petroliere SA, Minmetal SA, Oil Terminal SA, Idu Shipping & Stevedoring CO SRL, Coremar SA, SOCEP SA, North Star Shipping SRL, Romned Port Operator SA etc.), shows that there has not been registered a sensitive increase of freight traffic: “Following the discussions we had with port operators, I can not confirm an increase of the freight traffic through Constanta Port consequently to the conflict in Ukraine.

I have heard in the market proposals about alternative traffic routes, but there has not happened anything definitive yet. Ukraine is an important source of raw materials for Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, therefore any traffic disturbance is reflected in problems of supply and production. That is why there is a concern for identifying other sources of raw materials for those industries. We are talking especially about transporters that have Constanta on their routes. Unfortunately, this research does not involve Romania because here has died the industry that could have offer the alternative to Ukraine’s raw materials. It is unfortunate, because in Constanta Harbor operators have developed some highly efficient measures of transshipping freight, even at an European level. And I give you as example the port silage, the mining terminal that have a very big capacity and some operating rates that are even better than Rotterdam Harbor”.

Another problem that prevents Constanta Port to function at its full capacity is the lack of an efficient strategy for intermodal transport – defined as ”that transport system that implies the consecutive use of at least two modes of transportation and in which the intermodal transport unit is not divided when changing the transport modes”, ie passing freight from the maritime routes on the river or road or railway routes with the purpose of shortening the itineraries and reducing the transport costs.

In this matter, the difficulties emphasized by Viorel Panait are various. The transport on the Danube raises problems because of the lack of necessary depths of the fluvial barges and the existence of those thresholds of river deposits that can be eliminated only by broad works of regularization and dredging. Romanian transporters say that a part of the blame has Bulgaria, being not interested in the working jobs Romania asked for.

The road transportation collides with the lack of continuity, the lack of a highway to cross over Romania in order to allow the transport towards Central Europe.

The railway freight transport was characterized by Viorel Panait as an “adventure”, a term detailed in the intermodal transport Strategy of Romania as “insufficient investments for rehabilitating/modernizing the national railway transport infrastructure, leading to speed restrictions and the emergence of dangerous points”.

European context: the group states of Visegrad want all transport corridors to link with the Black Sea

On the other side, Mihai Daraban, the President of The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania, raised the question in an European context, pointing that Constanta Port became, in the last seven years, mainly since Romania adhered to the EU, an important transit port, its benefits being the large surface of 3915 ha and its depth which allows operating the biggest ships that enter the Black Sea.

Odessa, Ilicevsk, Burgas, Varna Ports can receive ships at half the tonnage that Constanta Port allows. Only in Novorosisk Port there are two berths with the draught that Constanta Port has – 19 and over 10 meters, and those two berths are strictly for loading crude oil.

Moreover, Constanta has a containers terminal where are operating transoceanic containers that come from China and unload in Constanta on the feeders, smaller ships that distribute merchandise in all ports of the Black Sea.

Mihai Daraban also drew attention on the fact that the crisis in Ukraine started long ago. The economic crisis was felt more harshly in Ukraine than in Romania, then, when an economic revival was expected, there started political problems, street movements that culminated with was is happening now.

Another important matter at an European level is the decision of the states in the Group of Visegrad – Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, to work together in order that all the fluvial, road or railway European corridors would come to the Black Sea, this unification of the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea through transport corridors being a very important aspect that must be taking into consideration in Romania’s Masterplan Transport. That is because the freight traffic brings economic development and strategic investors that will firstly be attracted by the existence of a marketing infrastructure which is now missing.

Mihai Daraban: “Unfortunately, only Romania, Serbia and Austria are actually interested by the Danube. The Bulgarians do not have a river fleet, or a harbor infrastructure that could solve the Danube issues. Slovakia is also emerged in a total indifference towards the freight traffic, having only houses and restaurants on the Danube shore, and the Hungarians have problems with the ecologists which claim that the Danube should be used only for recreation, not for freight traffic. I was recently in Hungary and I talked to their Deputy Prime Minister to whom I suggested to travel on the Rhine, to see what is happening in Germany, where is very difficult to pass with a kayak from a side to another without being hit by a freight barge, because the traffic there is like on the highway”.