In recent years, Turkmenistan has been actively developing the eastern regions, where the main volumes of natural gas are produced. More than 30 gas and gas condensate fields are currently being developed there. The state allocated 10 billion US dollars for the development of deposits and the development of gas infrastructure.

Problems with the delivery of numerous cargoes necessary for all these works prompted the country’s leadership to pay increased attention to the transport infrastructure of Turkmenistan. The President of the country Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov by his decree approved the master plan for the development of railway transport in Turkmenistan for 2012-2016. A master plan for the development of the Turkmenbashi International Seaport and the Turkmen merchant marine until 2020 was also adopted.

A bit of history

The port of Turkmenbashi arose in October 1896, 27 years after the founding of the city of Krasnovodsk (now Turkmenbashi), the website of the State Service of Maritime and River Transport of Turkmenistan reports. By this time, the construction of the former Trans-Caspian, and now the Ashgabat railway, was being completed.

The port was founded in Muravyov Bay, in the southeastern part of Krasnovodsk. Initially, each entrepreneur rented a coastal site, built a pier, equipped warehouses and railway entrances to them.
In order to unite and streamline the transportation of goods and passengers on January 1, 1903, the management of the commercial seaport was organized.

Freight traffic has been increasing over the years, so at the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of building a ferry crossing arose. But its construction began only in 1959. And the ferry began to accept regular flights along the Krasnovodsk-Baku line from November 22, 1962.

Ferry transportation made it possible to significantly speed up the delivery of goods, free up coastal mechanization, and there was no need to maintain passenger ships.

Port of Turkmenbashi

The Turkmenbashi International Sea Port is an important link in the TRACECA trade route from the Black Sea to Central Asia and beyond.

The port is generic. It has oil piers, general cargo berths, a ferry pier, auxiliary berths. Depths in the water area and at the berths – up to 4.5 meters. The port provides services for towing, pilotage, bunkering and handling of ships, and has warehouse complexes.

Portal cranes of the Albatross type operate here with a lifting capacity of 10 tons at an outreach of 32 meters and a lifting capacity of 20 tons at an outreach of 16 meters. The cranes were reconstructed by the German company Noel with a complete replacement of contact electrical equipment with frequency control. There is also a Liebherr mobile crane with a lifting capacity of up to 500 tons, which allows handling cargo from ships weighing up to 140 tons, while before that the limit was 40 tons.

There are Terberg port tractors with trailers that transport containers and polypropylene products from the warehouse to the berth, Kalmar forklifts with a carrying capacity of 37 tons, designed to transport and load containers.

There are new forklifts of the Japanese company Komatsu in the port, with a carrying capacity of 2.5 and 5 tons, designed to handle various cargoes, both on universal platforms (pallets) and bale cargoes (cotton, wool).

Through the port, industrial and agricultural equipment, vehicles, metal products, timber, mineral fertilizers are delivered to the country. In particular, today dozens of road trains loaded with large modular units are leaving the port for the construction of a natural gas desulfurization plant in the Yolotan region, an industrial complex for the production of ammonia and carbamide in Mary.

And oil products, coke, polypropylene and other derivatives of deep processing of oil and natural gas are sent abroad. The intensity of cargo flows passing through the harbor has increased markedly in recent years.

In 2009, the capacity of the port of Turkmenbashi was estimated by experts at 7 million tons, and the actual transshipment amounted to 5 million tons. It is expected that in 2012 the port’s capacity will increase to 9 million tons, and the actual transshipment will increase to 8.5 million tons.

The port has several port points. The registration point of the port of Turkmenbashi Okarem is located at a distance of 75 km from the port of Turkmenbashi, north of the village of Gasan-Kuli. It was built in 1960-1962 to provide oil industry construction sites located in the southwestern Karakum region with the necessary materials and mechanisms, as well as to export oil products. It consists of a pier with a mooring length of 63 meters, connected to the shore by a flyover 790 meters long and 5 meters wide.

Port point Aladzha is located in the northwestern part of the South Chelekensky Bay, 1.5 km north of Cape Aladzha, which is the eastern tip of the Dervish Peninsula. The emergence of the port point dates back to 1950, when a metal pier of a pile structure with a connecting overpass was built here, designed for reloading cargoes from the oil industry. In 1954, an oil pier of a similar design was built here, designed to export oil.

The port point of Gara-Bogaz is located on the northeastern shore of the bay of the same name. The emergence of the port point dates back to the end of the 30s, when a pier was built in the bay for the export of sulfate.

Currently, two piers have been built here. The southern pier has on one and the other side a berth 110 meters long and with depths of 4.4-5 meters along them. The pier is connected to the shore by a trestle 140 meters long. The northern pier is 170 meters long and has a depth of 1.6-4 meters.

The State Service of Sea and River Transport of Turkmenistan, with the participation of world consulting companies, prepared a feasibility study for the further development of the port.

The general plan for the development of the port until 2020 provides for its large-scale modernization, the construction of a shipbuilding and ship repair plant, the creation of an emergency service base and the acquisition of environmental equipment and environmental vessels, the reconstruction of the railway ferry terminal, existing oil piers, the acquisition of port tugs, the reconstruction of the dry cargo berth at the Aladzha port, construction of additional berths and a motor-passenger terminal, deepening and expansion of the navigation channel of the port of Turkmenbashi, construction of a new control tower to coordinate the work of the port, creation of a logistics center, including the construction of a berth for container and dry cargo ships with a length of 1500 meters and other works.

On January 1, 2012, the preparatory stage for a full-scale reconstruction of coastal facilities began in the port, Neutral Turkmenistan reports. For this purpose, a plot of two and a half hectares has been allocated for the transfer of auxiliary services currently located along the berthing line of the port. On the site, marking of objects is carried out in a single complex of support services, the construction of which will be completed in the second half of 2013.

It will include general purpose warehouses, civil defense and mobilization reserve warehouses, a ship repair mechanical workshop, a rigging shop, a repair and maintenance department, a repair and construction site and other services. The universal complex will be complemented by boxes for cars and trucks, buildings for the dispatching service, electrical facilities, automation and communications, an administrative building with life support facilities connected to external communication networks.

The multifunctional facility is being built by the Turkmen construction company Galkan Hojalyk Jemgyеeti. This is the first step towards the implementation of seaport modernization projects for the period from 2012 to 2020.

IA Regnum informs that, by the decision of the Turkmen leader, the civil service will conclude a contract with the German company Inros Lackner AG for the provision of technical consulting services for the construction of a ship repair and construction plant.

With the completion of the construction of new loading and unloading complexes in 2020, the area of the port of Turkmenbashi will increase from 40 to 150 hectares, and the throughput will increase to 25 million tons of cargo per year.

To train qualified personnel in the city of Turkmenbashi, it is planned to build the Institute of Water Transport, equipped with modern equipment using multimedia education technologies.

Marine fleet of Turkmenistan

With the declaration of independence of Turkmenistan, the need for its leadership to have its own marine fleet in the Caspian became obvious. Already during 1993, several dry cargo ships were purchased, then tankers were purchased and built.

In July 2010, a resolution was signed on the establishment of the Department of the Turkmen Merchant Marine. The department is a state-owned enterprise that transports goods and passengers by sea and provides other services.

At the beginning of 2012, the merchant marine fleet of Turkmenistan included 10 vessels: 4 dry cargo ships with a total carrying capacity of over 13 thousand tons and 6 river-sea tankers with a total carrying capacity of 30.7 thousand tons. In the first half of 2012 alone, the cargo turnover of the Turkmen merchant marine fleet increased by 19.4%, amounting to 216.3 million ton-kilometers.

For the development of the country’s fleet, the master plan plans to purchase an additional six oil tankers, one tanker for the transport of liquefied gas, two auto-passenger ferries, four port tugs, one crane vessel and one dredging vessel.

Since the beginning of the year, work on the implementation of the master plan has been gaining momentum. As Regnum news agency reported, in March 2012, Turkmenistan signed a contract with the Krasnoye Sormovo plant in Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) for the construction and purchase of a river-sea vessel with a deadweight of 7,100 tons for the transportation of oil and oil products. Prior to this, Russian manufacturers delivered three similar tankers to Turkmenistan.

On July 20, 2012, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a resolution on concluding a contract with the Croatian shipyard “ULJANIK Brodоgradiliste d.d.” for the construction of two car-passenger ferries.

The President of Turkmenistan also allowed the state service of sea and river transport of the country to purchase a 320-seat high-speed passenger ship. The corresponding contract is expected to be concluded with a joint Turkish-Turkmen company, and the assembly of the vessel will be carried out on the territory of the port of Turkmenbashi, the press service of the head of Turkmenistan reported.

Interesting projects of maritime transit are being developed in Turkmenistan. Thus, the State Service of Sea and River Transport of Turkmenistan is negotiating and studying the issue of supplying Turkmen liquefied gas to Europe through the Romanian port of Constanta. It is supposed that liquefied gas in special containers will be delivered by ships of the Turkmen marine fleet to Baku, and from there to the ports of Batumi or Poti by rail. Further, from the ports of Georgia, containers will be delivered by sea to Romania or other countries of the Black Sea basin. The same scheme is being considered for other Turkmen goods that can be transported in containers.

Alexey Stepanov

By editor