Bulgarian section of the river Danube is a section of the Lower Danube and its length is 471 km. After opening the Main - Danube Canal, the importance of Danube for Bulgaria is growing because the country has the opportunity to link directly by water to the countries of Western and Northern Europe. The rules for its use are governed by special treaties, conventions and agreements that guarantee free navigation to all countries that are contracting parties. To identify a relevant section of waterways as navigable it needs to meet certain requirements, such as fairway depth, width of the riverbed, bridge clearance, number of locks and etc. Based on these indicators, the European Council of Ministers of Transport adopted a regulation under which navigable waterways in Europe are classified in different categories in order to determine what types of vessels (depending on their technical and operational parameters) can be used for transportation.
* Bulgarian section of Danube is categorized as Class VII. Technical parameters of waterways within categories VI and VII can provide safe navigation of vessels carrying out oversized, heavy and bulky cargoes and containers stacked into three and four levels.
* The availability of low water levels in the summer months of the year in certain areas makes it necessary to overload vessels to reduce their deadweight, which in turn extends the delivery time of goods and increases the price of transport services.
* Formation of floating ice is another phenomenon that has a negative impact on the pace and efficiency of transportation in inland waterways. Occurrence of such force majeure is accompanied by an increase in the sum of the variable costs for shippers and decline in customers’ demand due to relatively growth in the price of transport services.
* Another weakness of the Bulgarian section of the Danube is the presence of bottlenecks. The total length of these sections is 91 km, which represent approximately 19.4% of the length of the navigable waterways of the Republic of Bulgaria. They fall into the category bottlenecks of strategic importance and are located close to Port Rousse.
More and up-to-date information about the fairway conditions and navigation on the Bulgarian section of the Danube could be found on the official web-site of the Executive Agency for Exploration and Maintenance of the Danube River.