PJSC Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company (UDP) is implementing a program involving operation of part of its commercial fleet under the flag of Slovakia to enable its vessels to enter the market of cargo transportation from/to the port of Constanta. The shipping company’s acting Board Chairman Dmytro Chalyi announced this in an interview with the izmail.es publication.

"The shipping company is working to switch its fleet to operation under the flag of Slovakia, which will allow its vessels to avoid ‘third flag’ restrictions in the ports of Romania. This will enable the shipping line’s fleet to participate in transportation from/to the deepwater port of Constanta, which is currently one of the main transport hubs in Eastern Europe," Chalyi said.

According to him, this is one of the steps that the UDP is taking to ensure qualitative increase of its cargo base. Another potential source of increased cargo volumes is the return of the traditional cargo flow – iron-ore cargoes from the Poltava ore mining plant (the Izmail–Linz (Austria) route), which accounted for 40% of the total volume of export cargoes transported by the company in the period of 2012-2013.

The UDP has practically not transported iron ore from the Poltava ore mining plant since the second quarter of 2014. "It is possible to expect to transport up to 300,000 tons per year if it is restored," Chalyi said.

In addition, according to him, the UDP is hoping for an increase in the volume of cargo transportation to the Smederevo steel plant. "Another of the shipping company’s traditional cargoes is iron ore to the Smederevo steel plant (Serbia), which is currently operating at full capacity, and the possibility of expansion of production is in evidence. Transportation of export ore and coal and transportation of the plant’s finished products are possible," Chalyi said.

He also predicted the UDP’s cargo transport volume in 2018. "The volume of cargo transportation by PJSC UDP’s river fleet is projected at 2.450 million tons, including 1.450 million tons of export goods and 1 million tons between foreign ports plus import and transit goods. A revival of the grain market was noticed in the second half of February after a long period of calm. Work on agreements is currently being performed and several contracts for transportation of grain cargo between foreign ports have already been signed," Chalyi said. 

In general, according to him, the Danube freight market is competitive, with a large number of small ship-owners, and it is characterized by the absence of long-term contracts and transportation on spot terms.