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25.11.03á10:51

ST. PETERSBURG'S CASPIAN PROJECT
TURKMENISTAN STARTS BUILDING ITS SECOND LARGEST SEAPORT

The leader of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, sticking to his principle to construct "for long" and run ahead of time, has recently taken a decision to erect a new modern seaport of Ekerem in the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea that is set to become the second largest port after the main "sea gateway", the port of Turkmenbashi (former Krasnovodsk).

The idea of constructing the new port had arisen from the streamline development of the republic's western region that today produces the lion share of Turkmen "black gold", consistently enhances the means of hydrocarbons refining (the Turkmenbashi complex of oil refineries' modernization alone totaled almost half a billion dollars) and increases production of gas condensate and associated gas.

It was not by accident that Ekerem has been chosen as Turkmenistan's second important "sea window". Situated close to promising oil deposits, both onshore and offshore, it has already began functioning as transit port, representing a wharf that provides an annual transshipment of some 2 mln tons of oil and shipment of oil products to existing coastal oil storage facilities. Obviously, this amount is not enough for the rapidly developing oil region of Turkmenistan.

Let us simply recall that specialists of the state corporation Turkmengeologya and American "Western Jeco" company have prepared visual models of oil deposits and found 16 promising objects in the deep layers of Korpeje, Akpatlawuk and Chekichiler fields, not far from Ekerem. At present, the state concern Turkmenneft implements drilling works to get to promising deep horizons at Khazar, Gundogar Khazar, Akpatlawuk fields. These fields are expected to ensure a growth of 50-60 mln tons of oil in industrial reserves by the year-end that will provide an output of 3 mln tons of oil a year. Test drilling has also started at Shatut field.

The process of looking through the plans of the new port establishment has led the government to pick up the Viborg shipyard as its main partner. These days, the Russians have already begun implementing the first stage of a project. There is a contract signed at this stage with the state concern Turkmenneft regarding the initial stage of the project implementation, namely, preparing a draft design. It is about preparing the so-called feasibility study along with drawing composition and architecture designs of the general plan of the port's complex construction.

It will take 5 months and cost $ 980,000 to complete this stage. The cost of the second stage, the construction itself, will be defined after drawing a draft project. That time will be the right moment to sign the main contract. According to the state concern Turkmenneft, the state fund for development of the oil and gas industry and natural resources of Turkmenistan will finance the project.

As they say in the concern, the project should provide for construction and putting into operation of wharfs for embarkation of oil and liquefied gas as well as receiving oil products and granular materials. Oil, oil products and liquefied gas terminals and storage facilities will be also built there. It is designed to build internal and external infrastructure for social, energy and transportation purposes in the territory of the port. It is also planned to build wharfs for dockage of oil drilling and passenger fleet as well as for deployment of marine border guards.

As observers noted, the port of Ekerem construction plan implementation was also very important in the context of the Turkmen-Russian cooperation expansion that, so far, remains increasingly limited to the partnership in the field of gas trade and supply of oil equipment.

Igor SOLOVYEV

(Based on reports of the Turkmen press)

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