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The Ukraine possesses the most powerful seaport potential among all countries of the Black Sea re­gion. Along its Black and Sea of Azov coastline there are 20 merchant sea ports: Reni, Izmail, Ust-Dunaisk, Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy, Illichevsk, Odessa, Yuzhniy, Nikolaev, Dnepro-Bugskiy, Oktyabrsk, Kherson, Skadovsk, Yevpatoria, Sev­astopol, Yalta, Theodosia, Kerch, Berdyansk and Mariupol, Genichesk, as well as 11 port points. Moreover, there is a number of port and berth lo­cations owned by enterprises not subject to the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine, working in fields such as: fishery, metallurgy, shipbuilding and repair, oil and gas extraction, etc.

According to GOSKOMSTAT and UKRMORRECHFLOT of Ukraine, merchant sea­ports, river and sea fishery ports and other port complexes handled 157.96M t of cargoes in 2006. Comparing to 2005, the growth amounted to 3,9%.


In the total cargo turnover in Ukraine state-owned merchant seaports controlled by Trans­port and Communications Ministry possess the lion share as before. But this share has been drop­ping for the latest period - from 81% in 2003 to 71.3% in 2006.

Based on information compiled by CHERNOMORNIIPROEKT, the Institute, which for decades has been carrying out most of the engi­neering work involved in constructing, renovat­ing and developing Ukraine's Black and Azov sea ports, the berthage line of these 20 major sea ports totals more than 37 km.

These 20 ports are equipped with about 580 gantry cranes, thousands of lift trucks of different types and other units of port machinery. These ports have over 300,000 sq. m of sheltered storage areas and over 2.4M sq. m of open storage spaces.

The most important Ukrainian ports are those of Odessa, Illichevsk and Yuzhniy, all situated not far from each other on the north­western part of the Black Sea coast. These three ports alone account for 56.5 % of the total car­go turnover in Ukrainian sea ports and offer the best sea approach ways, which can accommo­date large vessels with draft of from 11.5 m to even 14,5 m; while Ukraine's other ports can only take ships of considerably less draft. The major container terminals in Ukraine are locat­ed in ports of Odessa and Illichevsk.

At the mouths of Ukraine's major rivers, the Dnepr and Yuzhniy Bug, there is another impor­tant grouping of sea ports: Nikolaev, Kherson, Oktyabrsk and Dnepro-Bugskiy (structural sub­division of the Nikolaev alumina plant), which can handle both bulk and general cargoes.

Around the Crimean Peninsula's seacoast, there are the merchant sea ports of Yevpatoria, Sevastopol, Yalta, Theodosia and Kerch. They were designed, primarily, to serve Crimean transport needs. Given the Crimea's tourism potential, ports of Yalta and Sevastopol have great prospects for passenger and cruise traffic devel­opment.

Port Theodosia has substantial capacities for handling oil and petroleum products.

On the northern coast of the Sea of Azov there are the Ukrainian merchant sea ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol, whose distinguishing feature is their closeness to the industrially developed regions of Donbass and Pridneprovye. The export of metals and other commodities from these regions provides the main workload for these two ports.

A small port of Genichesk is located in the same region. It had been a port point of Skadovsk before 2002. At the moment it is temporary closed down.

Ukraine also has three merchant sea ports in the lower Danube: Reni, Izmail and Ust-Du­naisk.

In the past, substantial cargo traffic passed through these ports en route to the Danube basin countries. But in recent years these ports have been among the enterprises suffering great set­backs, firstly, from the UN embargo on trade with Yugoslavia (in 1992-1995), more recent­ly – from the stoppage of navigation due to de­struction of Yugoslavian bridges over the Danube in 1999.

Ukraine's merchant sea ports, originally constructed to fulfill the needs of the huge coun­try – former Soviet Union, were handling over 121.4M t of cargo back in 1990. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakdown of econom­ic relations between the newly formed states and countries, as well as their subsequent economic crises resulted in drastic reduction of freight traf­fic in Ukrainian ports. The deepest fall in freight traffic was during 1996, when barely 51M t of cargo were handled.

Under these new conditions, and as conver­sion from planned economy to market-oriented economic development has been initiated, the main objective of Ukrainian port management has been to attract new clients, namely, new car­go and ship owners.

To a large extent, this conversion has been developing successfully over the past few years. Although Ukraine's economic recession was still in progress – stabilization was noted only in 2000 – Ukrainian ports' cargo turnover began to grow steadily.

In 1999 it reached 80.85M t. In 1997 it rose by 12.2%, in 1998 – by 12.7 %, in 1999 – by 16.8 %.

The recent increase of Ukrainian economy encouraged the further growth of the ports car­go turnover (in 2000 - by 3.9%, in 2001 - by 6%, in 2002 - by 19.4%, in 2003 - by 4.1%, in 2004 - by 0.7%). In 2005 there was a small decline - by 2.2%, but in 2006 it was alternat­ed with increase - by 3.2%. In 2006 Ukrainian merchant seaports handled 112.543M t in all and reached the total largest index of cargo turnover of the times of the USSR era.

At the same time, the sea ports have con­siderable capacity reserves. The total through­put capacity reserve is substantial, although 20-25% of this reserve are shared by low-efficiency multipurpose complexes with crane structure of cargo operations' mechanization.

The growth of the foreign trade of Ukraine is still limited.

So, primarily, the ports pin their hopes on transit cargo growth, especially because of Ukraine's strategic geographical location for this development. First and foremost, for greater transit cargo traffic to and from such countries as Russia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan. Definite hopes are also linked to Caspian oil transit to Europe through Georgian and Ukrainian ports.


In 2006 the export share in the structure of total cargo turnover (157.9M t) of all Ukrainian mer­chant seaports, river and sea fishery ports and other handling complexes amounted to 44.7% (70.7M t), the share of transit cargoes - 33.7% (53.2M t), import - 10.1% (16M t), coasting trade- 11% (17.4M t).

In the structure of cargo turnover of the state-owned merchant seaports (112.56M t) the share of export cargoes amounted to 49.6% (55.8M t), transit - 38.6% (43.45M t), import - 8.5% (9.6M t), domestic carriages - 3.3% (3.6M t).

In 2006 the main export cargoes handled in merchant seaports are: metal (37%), grain (11.4%), crude oil and petroleum products (5.7%), chemical and mineral fertilizers (7.8 %), ore (10.3%) and construction materials (7.8%).

In the nomenclature of transit such cargoes as coal (28.5%), crude oil and petroleum products (22.5%), prevailed. The shares of mineral fertiliz­ers (10.1%), metal (9.4%), ore (9.4%) and liquid chemical cargoes (6.4%) are also significant.

Speaking of import cargo flows, it should be stated that the share of containerized cargoes (40.6 %) and ore (27 %) increased as well.

In recent years the sea trade ports cargo turnover growth was slowing down and even re­ducing caused by the world metal market recess which has negatively effected Ukrainian metals export numbers, as well as by considerable traf­fic of Russian oil and petroleum products having left Ukrainian ports.

One of the fastest developing sectors in port operation has become container handling. While in 2001 Ukrainian sea ports handled 1.7862M t of box cargoes, in 2006 - 6,1M t (729,400 TEU), i.e. only for five years the handling has grown al­most in 3,5 times (in tons).


All of Ukraine's 20 major merchant sea ports are state-owned enterprises. This status is provided by the Merchant Shipping Code of Ukraine.

The Ministry of Transport of Ukraine insists on strengthening the status in the proposed draft of the law on Merchant Sea Ports of Ukraine.

In 2002-2004 the Ministry of Transport started its policy on increasing the influence of Governmental Bodies on ports development. Aiming at that, in December, 2002 the state as­sociation UKRMORPORT was established and all 20 merchant sea ports have joined it. UKRMORPORT was to increase coordination of activities of the joined organizations to provide conditions for their efficient functioning and de­velopment of their material and technical basis.

In 2005 the concern UKRMORPORT was closed down, however. In recent years po­litical instability in Ukraine has been accom­panied by frequent rotation both in transport ministry's headship and in administrations of merchant seaports. Representatives of different political forces had diverse opinions as to the fu­ture of domestic port economy. In the late 2006 the government again made its decision to as­sociate all 20 state-owned merchant seaports in UKRMORPORT concern. By the statute of this concern approved in June 2007 the association is actually subordinated to the Cabinet directly de­spite objections of the transport ministry. A gene­ral director of the concern is a designee of the Cabinet authorized to enter contracts with gene­ral directors of ports in coordination with the corresponding vice-premier.

For the recent years the state has been par­ticularly active in using public ports as a budget replenishment source. In 2005 they had to remit 50% of profits into the budget, as well as all other public enterprises.

In 2007 they reduced the share of remittance into the budget to 15%. For the years of Ukrainian independence seaports has remitted billions of hrivnas into the state and local budgets. No re­sponse as investments in ports development came.

In this view presently the issue of drawing in­vestments in the ports development has sharp­ly arisen. Transport Ministry declared its attitude towards private investments changing and called for potential investors to bring funds into ports development. They announce, however, their de­cision to revise many contracts concerning joint activities signed by the ports.

The port of Odessa is a pioneer in organizing of joint activities in Ukrainian state-owned ports. 71% of the port overall cargo turnover are shared by private stevedore enterprises.

The demonstrative examples of how foreign companies participate in the activities of Ukrainian state ports are those shown by the container ter­minals in Odessa and Illichevsk seaports operat­ed by HPC Ukraine (affiliated company of HPC Hamburg) and PE UKRTRANSCONTAINER (affiliated with Russian National Container Company) respectively.

In 2006 private stevedore companies in state-owned ports and at private terminals han­dled more than 63.4M t of cargoes in all (without regard to the number of private companies in­volved in transshipment operations off the harbour). It is 40% of the total cargo turnover of all Ukrainian ports and terminals (157.9M t).

Bearing in mind that the activity of non­governmental stevedore companies and private terminals is not even mentioned in the main ef­fectual legislatorial document of the country -Merchant Shipping Code of Ukraine, it be­comes clear how far Ukrainian legislation fell behind real life.

At the same time some private companies at­tempt to build their own transfer complexes out­side the territories of the old ports. In 2002 the ter­minal for handling potassium fertilizers having the berth of 330m in length built by Nikolaev Potassium Terminal Ltd. was put into operation in Nikolaev on the bank of the Dnepro-Bugskiy liman and it is the real example of such attempts, as the private termi­nal AVLITA founded in Sevastopol on a part of the territory of the former Sevastopol Morskoy Zavod. As for such sea ports as AZOVSTAL and Dnepro-Bugskiy, they are in fact mainly handling ter­minals of large metallurgic plants, namely, the AZOVSTAL Metallurgical Plant and Nikolaev Alumina Plant, respectively.

The oil transshipment complex in the port Yuzhniy looks rather prospective, but it lacks charging so far. In 2006 the terminal shipped 3.67M t of crude oil working in 'warm-up' mode, though its capacity amounts to 9M t yearly.

Since 2001 merchant sea ports of the country have been the members of a public organization – Association of Ukrainian Ports (UKRPORT), founded by themselves.

Today the concern, being one of the most au­thoritative public organizations acting for people that work in water-borne transportation sector of the country, associates other ports as well.


Besides merchant sea ports, there are also four fishery sea ports in Ukraine, i.e. those of Illichevsk, Sevastopol, Kerch and Mariupol, which are su­pervised by the Fisheries Department. Of the four, only that of Illichevsk is a joint-stock en­terprise; the rest are still state enterprises. Due to the abrupt fall of fishery products, actually coming to Ukraine, these fishery sea ports have had to, almost en­tirely, turn to handling of the same range of cargoes that our merchant sea ports do. In 2006 the cargo turnover of sea fishery ports amounted to 3.5M t. Cargo handling has also become a mainstay for many shipbuilding and repair yards that are 'suffocating' from the lack of orders.

The Dnepr, which flows through Ukrainian territory, is the third largest river in Europe and, since ancient times, has strongly influenced the development of Ukrainian river shipping activities. There are indeed many river ports and quays along the banks of the Dnepr and Yuzhniy Bug. Ukraine's eleven major river ports, namely those of Cher­nigov, Kiev, Cherkassy, Dneprodzerzhinsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhie, Kremenchug, Nikopol, Novaya Kakhovka, Kherson and Nikolaev, used to handle up to 100M t of cargo annually, primarily mineral construction material, in FSU times. However, following the collapse of USSR and the ensuing economic crisis, constructional activity was much reduced and the flight of river tonnage going off to seek work on the Danube led to an abrupt fall in cargo handling at these river ports, indeed putting some of them on the verge of survival.

For instance, Kiev River Port used to handle over 30M t of cargo, but in 2004 it only handled 2.6M t. In 2006, however, the cargo turnover of the port increased to 5.3M t.

Similarly, overall in 2006, Ukraine's river ports handled as little as 16.88M t of cargo. As early as in 1992, Ukrainian river ports began to be floated for joint-stock ownership. In recent years already five of them, Zaporozhie, Kher­son, Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk and Chernigov river ports were integrated into JS UKRRECHFLOT, which now owns a substantial share of these port's stock.

A considerable number of private and mixed forwarding, agency, brokerage, surveying, con­sulting, and crewing companies also render their services to clients throughout the' ports of Ukraine.


Bugsko-Dneprovskiy Lymansky Channel (BDLC) and Kherson Sea Channel (KSC)

The Bugsko-Dneprovskiy Lymansky Channel (BDLC) begins at Berezan Island in the Black Sea stretching 44 miles up to the Nikolaev Mer­chant Sea Port. The channel consists of 13 bends, 6 of which lie within the Dneprovskiy Estuary and the rest along the Yuzhniy Bug river. The chan­nel is 100 meters wide. Passage depth of the chan­nel is 10.3 m.

The channel connects the merchant sea ports of Nikolaev, Oktyabrsk and Dnepro-Bugskiy, Nikolaev river port and other cargo transfer complexes of Nikolaev with the Black Sea.

At the junction point of the 5th and 6th bends of BDLC, the Kherson Sea Channel (KSC) branches off. This branch channel connects Kherson Merchant Sea Port with the Black Sea. It has 3 bends and is 21.3 miles long and 100 m wide; passage draft is 7.6 m.

Since 1999 the state enterprise Delta-Pilot has been in charge of managing both BDLC and Kherson Sea Channel.

In the area of BDLC and Kherson Sea Channel the regional VTS of state enterprise Delta-Pilot is operative. It includes posts Ocha­kov, Russkaya Kosa, Shirokaya Balka. VTS centre provides services on vessels traffic, assists in navigation and supplies with information.

Kerch-Yenikalskiy Channel

The Kerch-Yenikalskiy Channel, located in Kerch Strait, connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It consists of 4 bends and is 18.9 miles long, 120 m wide; the least depth is 8 m. Kerch Merchant Sea Port is in charge of the Kerch-Yenikalskiy Channel.

In the area VTS of Kerch Merchant Sea Port is operative. It provides services on vessels traffic, assists in navigation and supplies with information.

The Danube - the Black Sea Channel

In Ukrainian part of the Danube estuary naviga­tion from the Danube to the Black Sea and back was carried out via the Prorva Channel. That channel also connected Ukrainian Danube ports of Izmail and Reni with the sea. But since 1997 navigation in the channel has been stopped due to the reduction of the channel depths. Ministry of Transport of Ukraine charged the state enter­prise Delta-Pilot with the task to carry out design and research works to determine the reasonable variant of building navigational passage from the Black Sea to the Danube. Based on that research it has been suggested to make a new channel in the river mouth Bystroe. It was accepted by the com­petent commission. But for a long time there were different reasons to postpone the construction. By the present time the first stage of the channel has been completed and over one hundred of Ukrai­nian and foreign vessels sailed through it. Its reg­istered passage depth is 5.85 m.


The Dnepr River, known in ancient times as Borisphen and Slavutich, is the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube. Its natural length is 2,285 km. The chain of water reservoirs that straightened its fairway changed the length of the river to 2,175 km. and its basin's area to 504,000 sq. km.

The Dnepr starts at the Valday highlands 75 km from the town of Viazma, 252 m above sea level. It flows into the Dneprovskiy estuary in the Black Sea.

It runs 485 km through Russia's territory, 595 km through Belorussia (115 km of which is the natural border with Ukraine), and 1,090 km through Ukraine's territory.

Ice covers the river in December and melts in March-April.

Its main tributaries are, on the left, the Sula, Psel, and Vorskla; and, on the right, the Pripyat, and the Inhulets.

The Dnepr is connected with the Western Dvina via the Berezina water system; with the Neman via the Dnepro-Neman water system, and with the Bug via the Dnepro-Bug water system.

The Dnepr-Krivoy Rog channel and the North Crimea irrigation system start from the Dnepr.

By means of complex hydro constructions, the Dnepr was turned into a deep waterway with an average depth of 3.6 m in the fairway. Navigation in the Dnepr extends 1990 km from its mouth to the town of Dorogobuzh in Russia.

Many hydropower stations and water reser­voirs have been built on the Dnepr, such as: Dnepr, Kakhovka, Kremenchug, Dneprodzer-zhinsk, Kiev and Kanev. Along the Dnepr, 5 ship locks ensure navigation practically through­out the whole basin. The hydrologic area of Zaporozhye is of special interest because it has a three chamber lock built in 1933 and a one chamber lock put into operation in 1980. The latter is one of the most unique high pressure hy­dro constructions in the world. The water pres­sure exceeds 40 m there.