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Friday 11 May 2018

Turkmenistan Inaugurates Major Caspian Port


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ASHGABAT (AP) – Turkmenistan has opened a vast and elaborate port on the shores of the Caspian Sea that the county hopes will improve its export prospects and establish the country as a regional hub connecting Europe and Asia.

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow inaugurated, on May 2, the new $1.5 bln Turkmenbashi International Seaport. In this occasion, he told attendees, the facilities is important not only for Turkmenistan but the wider region as well. It promises to become an important link in the formation of a modern system of maritime transport across the Caspian. He added that his government is offering use of the port to neighbouring countries, including the other Central Asian republics.

Although it has no outlets to the world’s oceans, the 1,000-km long Caspian Sea is an important thoroughfare for trade and passengers. Turkmen President said at the opening that the new port will be an important link in a modern maritime transport system with the most favourable conditions for access to the Black Sea area, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In addition, Turkmenbashi, formerly Krasnovodsk, is the home port of the modest Turkmen Navy

Construction of the Turkmenbashi International Seaport began in August 2013. The new port covers an area of about 375 acres and includes ferry, passenger and cargo terminals, with 1.8 km of berths designed to serve 17 vessels at once. Its design was drawn up five years ago, before record-low prices for natural gas decimated Turkmenistan’s primary source of export revenue.

The Turkmenbashi International Seaport’s projected throughput capacity is considerable: the government states that the new facility will be able to service 300,000 passengers, 75,000 trailer trucks, and 400,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers a year. The projected annual total throughput capacity of the new port is 17-18 mln tons of cargo; the ship-to-shore berths (STS) will operate with a capacity of 25 TEUs per hour.

Another important component in the expanded Turkmenbashi port is the Balkan shipbuilding and ship-repair plant. The enterprise, built by the Turkish company Gap Inşat has the capacity to process 12,000 tons of steel per year. The facility will be able to construct 4-6 vessels annually while providing maintenance facilities for another 20-30 ships per year, allowing for repair works to be carried out on civilian vessels such as tankers, dry cargo vessels and tugboats. (Military-az.com, July 27, 2012).

Kyrgyzstan, the easternmost of the former Soviet Central Asian states, expressed interest in utilizing the new seaport. Kurmanbek Akyshev, the director of Kyrgyzstan’s Civil Aviation Agency, told reporters:

[…] it is very important that the International Sea Port was put into operation on the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea. As you know, Kyrgyzstan has no access to the sea […] The new port will significantly reduce the distance and travel time for large-scale cargo flows, bringing to a qualitative new level economic and trade cooperation between Asia and Europe.>/quote>

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