The creation of shipping lines between Astrakhan ports and the port of Turkmenbashi has been the subject of recent negotiations in Astrakhan with the participation of representatives of Rosmorrechflot (Russian marine and river fleet), the government of the Astrakhan region, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, representatives of the Astrakhan special economic zone “Lotos” and logistics companies.
The meeting in Astrakhan was a continuation of the discussion of maritime transport cooperation between Turkmenistan and Russia, which took place in December 2022 on the sidelines the 12th meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Turkmen Commission on Economic Cooperation.
On 19-20 January, the activation of the international transport corridor North–South (INSTC) and the establishment of regular shipping between the countries will be discussed in Ashgabat.
Why is Russia so interested in establishing regular shipping services between its own and Turkmen Caspian ports? There are several reasons for this, including in light of the fact that Russia has intensified efforts to promote the North–South multi-route corridor, and against the background of Moscow’s aims to intensify trade and economic ties with South Asia (and Turkmenistan is one of Russia’s access gates to Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf).
“The opening of a regular shipping line between the port of Olya and Turkmenbashi will significantly reduce the delivery time of goods and save costs. It will contribute to the formation of additional cargo traffic along the North–South corridor and in the future will ensure the effective operation of the logistics center of Turkmenistan in the Astrakhan region. We offer our foreign colleagues to use the infrastructure of the Astrakhan Region to transport goods to the countries of Southeast and Central Asia and back along the trans-Caspian route,” explained Ilya Volynsky, Minister of Industry, Trade and Energy of the Astrakhan Region.
According to Andrey Nalimov, Deputy General Director of JSC SEZ Lotos, the opening of regular communication with Turkmenistan for Astrakhan is a stable cargo base and new projects on the territory of the port SEZ Lotos. “Now the first stage of the port SEZ is being equipped — berths 8 and 9 of the port of Olya, which will mainly handle container cargo, grain and oil. The anchor resident is already building warehouses, laying access roads. Grain and oil terminals will also be built here. In parallel, we are creating infrastructure facilities to provide residents with engineering networks, roads and other facilities. The second stage of development of the port SEZ is envisaged, which together with 8 and 9 berths will be able to handle about 20 million tons of cargo,” he said.
Partners are very attracted by the growing cargo turnover through the ultra-modern port of Turkmenbashi, which is the largest in the Caspian Sea. “The need for a shipping line speaks for itself given that freight transportation via Turkmenistan increased by approximately 90% in the first 11 months of 2022,” the Lotus SEZ emphasizes.
Representatives of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic also confirmed their interest in increasing cargo transportation with Russia through Turkmenistan.
“We are ready to organize regular shipping lines and provide preferential tariffs for cargo carriers, attract our own shipping companies to boost cargo traffic in the direction of Astrakhan – the port of Turkmenbashi,” Deputy Chairman of the Agency “Turkmen Sea and River Routes” of the Agency of Transport and Communications under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Seyitguly Baiseyidov said.
Following the meeting, an agreement was reached to work out the details of establishing a regular shipping line between the ports of Olya and Turkmenbashi, as well as to involve an operator company in its operations. Two companies have already expressed their willingness to operate this route.
The parties also agreed to develop a road map for the project of establishing a regular shipping service in the Caspian Sea.///nCa, 19 January 2023 (photo source – Ministry of External Relations of the Astrakhan region)