Lack of precipitation and very high temperatures during June-July continue to challenge Danube River transportation in Romania.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number: RO1219
Drought in Romania Lessens Danube River transportation
Grain and Feed
Michael Henney, Agricultural Attaché
Monica Dobrescu, Agricultural Specialist
Lack of precipitation and very high temperatures during June-July continue to challenge Danube River transportation in
Romania. Serbia and Hungary grain exports may be affected when their crops are harvested in the near future and the
volume intended for water shipment to Constanta Port on the Black Sea is expected to increase.
In spite of temporary difficulties that may be encountered, Danube River is one of the most advantageous means of
transportation, due to the low costs and large cargo volumes that may be carried from up-stream countries towards Black
Sea, such as Serbia and Hungary.
Danube river speed flow at the entry point in Romania was in July about 60 percent of the multi-year average, due to lower
rainfall and heat in the countries upstream. According to the forecast issued by the Romanian Hydrologic Institute for the
timeframe August – October 2012, the Danube river speed flow at the entrance in Romania will remain under the multi-
year average. In mid-August, the Danube river speed was 2,900 cubic meters/second (cm/s) compared to the multi-year
average of August of 4,300 cm/s, while for September and October 2012, Danube level is anticipated to remain at 80
percent of the monthly multi-year average given expected normal rainfall in up river feeder countries. The same forecast
reveals that the level of domestic rivers flow into Danube is likely to remain at 30-50 percent under their multi-year
average, or even lower in some cases given return to normal rainfall patterns in September/October.
On the Romanian territory, lack of rainfall and high temperatures resulted in low water depths recorded in certain
segments of the Danube river (under 2 meters), making barges, and ships flowing with difficulty. Dredging the river is
required in order to improve its usage for commodities transportation, as often vessels fail in the sandy thresholds. In order
to reduce the risk of blockage, pulling equipment has to maneuver fewer barges than normal, with a direct effect on the
time allocated for transportation. In an effort to improve the navigation conditions, the Romanian Government recently
allocated additional funds for dredging the river in the most critical spots (approximately USD 850,000).
Normally, during this time of the year, grains traffic on the Danube River is not that intense, thus grains shipments are only
slightly impacted. Currently, the only constraint grains traders may need to consider is the additional amount of time
needed for transit, due to the maneuvering process in certain locations to move full barges downriver. Nevertheless, in
September-October when spring grains (mainly corn) become available for export from the neighboring countries (Serbia
and Hungary, in addition to Romania) barge traffic is expected to intensify, posing an additional risk in river sailing even for
barges partially filled to correct for lower water flow.
Concerning the grains transit through Constantza Port, the major gate for goods intended for export originating from the
above-mentioned countries, it is worth mentioning that during the first semester of 2012, grains held a share of 27 percent
in the total goods transiting that port. According to the data provided by the port administration, about 6.4 million MT of
grains transited Constantza port during January-June 2012 compared to 3.5 million MT in the respective timeframe of the
previous year. Regional bumper crops in the fall of 2011 and improvement in Danube transportation conditions during the
first trimester of this year played a role in registering this remarkable share increase in 2012.
Related reports: Low Danube level impedes regional grains trade