Mariupol port ships ‘record’ ferrous volumes in May on Crimea crisis

Ukraine’s Azov Sea port of Mariupol shipped “more than” 1 million tonnes of ferrous metal in May, the port company said last week.

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This was the highest monthly ferrous metal volume ever shipped by the port, which has been operating since August 1889. The company did not provide a year-on-year comparison figure.

Steel products from Ukraine’s largest steelmaker, Metinvest, made up about 80% of the total shipments through the port in May.

“Considering the current situation in the shipping market, our regular partners redirected their shipments [from Crimea] to Mariupol,” port director Alexander Oleynik said on Wednesday June 4.. 

Russia unilaterally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March, in response to the popular ousting of Ukraine’s Russia-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich, following months of street protests in capitall city Kiev.

Metinvest has said that 7% of its products were shipped from the Crimean port of Sevastopol before the unrest.

“If any problems occur, there will be no logistical obstacles for us to shift shipments to the Azov Sea or the Black Sea port of Odessa,” cfo Aleksey Kutepov told Steel First in April.

However, Mariupol has not been immune to the political turmoil that has gripped Ukraine.

The city is a major port on the Azov Sea, with mines and steel works that account for a significant part of the region’s industrial output. It changed hands several times in the first half of May, from the rebels who seized its city hall to the military that cleared them out but immediately withdrew to the city’s edges, Reuters news agency reported.

Pro-Moscow rebels declared a resounding victory in an illegal referendum on self-rule for eastern Ukraine on May 11. Some suggested that the result meant independence while others advocated eventual union with Russia, Reuters said.

“If the region’s political situation does not stabilise … it will directly affect the stability of port loading … as has already happened with all ports in the Crimea,” Oleynik said.

Metinvest has seen no negative effects on its production and exports from the port of Mariupol, head of sales Dmitriy Nikolaenko said in May.