Insurance broker Marsh is involved in talks to arrange war risk cover for Ukraine grain exports along a missile-protected sea corridor.
Marsh’s involvement comes through its consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, which has been working with Kyiv on plans for its post-war reconstruction, which has led to discussions over cover for its grain exports.
The move follows the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the recent successful use of the Ukraine corridor by the 9,400-teu container ship Joseph Schulte (built 2014).
The ship safely sailed out of Odesa along the Ukraine and Romanian coast to Istanbul.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the transit was an “important step” towards winning back control of the Black Sea.
In statements he made in Athens late on Monday following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Zelenskyy said that Greek companies “stood ready to carry Ukranian grain”.
“We are relying on that,” the Ukrainian president said without elaborating on the number and identity of the companies he was referring to.
“I proposed ways for Greece to assist us in securing Ukraine’s new Black Sea corridor, ensuring freedom of navigation and unhindered grain exports.”Oleksandr Gryban, deputy economic minister of Ukraine, told the Financial Times that insurance cover is now being “actively discussed”, for grain exports with leading insurance groups including Lloyd’s of London.
A key element is the Ukraine defence systems offering missile protection for shipping up to 100 nautical miles (185 km) off its coastline.
Insurance sources in the London market tell TradeWinds that the deal hinges on an agreement on risk sharing between the Ukraine government and the private insurance industry.
The war risk cover would be for a critical 10 hours sailing from the Romanian border at the Danube up to Odesa, the waiting and loading period, and then the return journey.
Underwriters’ exposure could be limited by fast turnaround and limiting the number of ships in the high-risk area at any one time.
Limiting cover, for example, by excluding blocking and trapping clauses, could also help persuade underwriters to sign up.
A number of Ukrainian banks and the country’s road fund are being considered as possible sources of public capital for the cover, according to the Financial Times.
Marsh was involved along with underwriter Ascot in providing the initial insurance cover when the Black Sea Grain Initiative was launched in the summer of last year.
Ukraine grain is seen as critical in helping to alleviate food poverty in the Third World.
Russian drone attacks on Ukraine ports and grain storage facilities along the Danube, and the recent boarding of a vessel by Russian forces, will make insurers and shipowners wary of the security of the project.
Russia has previously said any ships trading with Ukraine would be viewed as a military threat.
Many insurers have suspended cover for trade to the Ukraine Danube River ports in response to the recent attacks.
The new Ukraine grain deal comes as Russia is reported to be arranging its own project with Turkey and Qatar to export grain to developing countries.
Harry Papachristou contributed to this story.