Ukraine is negotiating with Poland and Belarus on building a channel from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Alexey Goncharuk said during a press conference in Kiev on 14 September.
The project is called E40, which indicates the number of waterways, and is absolutely ready to be implemented, Goncharuk said. It is among several ambitious projects the new Ukraine government is currently undertaking, he added.
Ukraine began working on the E40 project of a river channel that would connect the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea in 2013, Ukraine’s former deputy transport minister Alexander Kava said.
The length of the waterway from the southern end in Kherson to the northern end in Gdansk is about 2,000 km, while the investment cost of the project is estimated to be about EUR12.7 billion (USD13.9 billion), out of which EUR12 billion is due to be invested in the Polish part of the channel, Kava said.
It would take only 14 days for a ship to pass through the E40 water channel, which is more than two times faster than using the other available routes, according to Kava. Nevertheless, the feasibility study conducted by the former Ukraine government showed that it was not easy to justify the project from the financial point of view, “since it would never repay itself,” Kava said.
“Traffic is the only one potential source of profit for Ukraine from that project. Potentially, some cargo flows could be redirected to the [E40] channel, but it’s hard to say when could this happen, if ever,” Kava said, adding it was very likely that Goncharuk did not go deep into financial details of the project before announcing it.
The new system is called to be an alternative to Russia’s Unified Deep Water System, which connects the Baltic Sea and the Azov Sea through a branched network of rivers and channels, with a total length of about 6,500 km. This system, however, is not widely used by commercial ships because of the limited throughput capability and the guaranteed depth of only 4.5 m.