Ukraine’s Leading Port Odessa Demobilized within hours of Russian invasion

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, only hours long, has already demobilized Ukraine’s most important seaport, Odessa. The Port of Odessa is one of the largest seaports in the Black Sea basin, with a total annual traffic capacity of 40 million tonnes: 15 million tonnes of dry bulk and 25 million tonnes of liquid bulk – oil and gas. Odessa’s oil and gas terminal is obviously of great economic and strategic significance for the whole of Ukraine.

The Container Terminal Odessa, the largest in Ukraine, has been operated by a subsidiary of Hamburg-based HHLA since 2001. Just before 9 am (CET) on February 24, HHLA announced it was shutting down its operations in Odessa. Two vessels, it said, were still docked there. It was unclear whether they could leave the port.

Today’s film evidence of explosions in Odessa is unequivocal. Explosions have also been reported in another seaport on the Black Sea, Mariupol. Whether or not Russian amphibious forces have actually attacked Odessa is less clear. Whatever the situation right now (11.30 am CET), it is evident that Putin’s forces will be targeting Odessa and trying to shut down all its port operations for the foreseeable future.

TEU Capacity 2

Data gathered by project44 reveals that total TEU vessel capacity calling at Odessa has been tumbling since the onset of the crisis. Since December 2021, vessel capacity calling at Ukraine’s main container port had dropped by almost 30%, signaling a steep drop in ocean-borne trade.

Meanwhile, average vessel delays into Odessa have hovered around five days throughout January and February. These delays are expected to peak as carriers announce new blank sailings in the wake of the announced HHLA terminal closure at Odessa.

Shipment Delays 2