On May 14, a new port complex was opened in the Alat settlement of the Garadagh district of Baku, capable of handling up to 15 million tons of cargo annually at the initial stage. Participating in the solemn ceremony dedicated to this event, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev noted that the opening of the port is a very significant day in the life of the country, as the new facility will allow the country to become a transport and logistics center in the Eurasian space and significantly increase the geopolitical and geo-economic significance of the country .
It should be noted that the construction of the port began in 2007. The master plan and general design of the new port complex was developed by the Dutch company Royal Haskoning, which won an international open competition. Construction work was carried out by a local company Evrascon OJSC.
The total area of the harbor is 117 hectares. Cargo turnover at the first stage will be 15 million tons per year, including about 50,000 TEU containers. The port will be able to receive Ro-Ro vessels, general cargo ships and service fleet ships. Part of the drawbridges is equipped with a hydraulic ramp, which ensures the safety of ships even when the water level drops.
The next stage is designed to increase the cargo transshipment capacity to 25 million tons, including up to 500,000 containers per year.
To increase the efficiency of loading and unloading operations, six new German portal cranes for 80, 40 and 32 tons were installed in the port. On the territory of the harbor there are cargo areas and warehouses, border and customs points, as well as infrastructure for the simultaneous placement of more than 1,000 containers, including refrigerated ones.
The opening of the port makes significant adjustments to the transport and logistics architecture of the Caspian region, which will increase the role of Azerbaijan in these processes and at the same time ensure the growth of interest in the region from the key players in the cargo transportation market in the Eurasian space.
The port of Alyat can become a key link in several transport routes that are actively developing in the Caspian region today, including the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, the Europe-Caucasus-Asia Transport Corridor (TRACECA), as well as the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. “.
Recall that the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) is designed to transport goods from China and the countries of the Central Asian region through the territory of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and further through Turkey or Ukraine to Europe. The issues of the development of the corridor are dealt with by the specially created International Association “Trans-Caspian International Transport Route”, the founders of which are Kazakh, Azerbaijani and Georgian transport and port companies.
The “Lazurite Corridor” is planned to be laid south of the TITR through the territory of Turkmenistan. It involves the organization of a transport corridor from Afghanistan to Europe through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Then the logistics of the “Lapis Lazuli Corridor” closes on the transport routes of Turkey and, thus, goes to the borders of the European Union. The participants of the corridor declare it as the shortest route between Afghanistan, the Black and the Mediterranean Seas, which China, the republics of Central Asia, India, Pakistan, Iran can use if desired. The corridor will pass through the Afghan trade ports of Akina in Faryab province and Torgundi in Herat province, Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, Baku in Azerbaijan, Tbilisi and Batumi in Georgia, and Istanbul in Turkey.
Another major transport project in which the new Azerbaijani commercial port on the Caspian Sea will be able to participate is TRACECA, a Eurasian corridor project passing through the Caucasus region. It is carried out within the framework of the idea of restoring the Great Silk Road. The technical assistance program for the development of the corridor was considered in 1993 in Brussels, with the participation of the leaders of eight countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The main hubs for the distribution of traffic flows are the ports of Poti and Batumi (Georgia), Baku (Azerbaijan), Aktau (Kazakhstan) and Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan).
The Chinese “Silk Road Economic Belt” does not require special introduction, which, along with the “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century” project, is one of the components of the Chinese concept “One Belt and One Road”, announced by the President of the PRC during his visits from the Central African Republic and Indonesia to 2013.
In addition, it is necessary to remember the joint work of the United States with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which became known this year, to resume the supply of military cargo to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network. One of the tasks that the new American project is certainly intended to solve is to assist transit participants in developing transport and logistics links in the Caspian region. The transportation of American cargo through the territories of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will help these countries remove technical barriers to strengthening trade and economic cooperation and strengthen the integration economic processes between them. Moreover, these processes do not involve the participation of Russia, so they will have a serious impact on the geo-economics and geopolitics of the Caspian region.
Thus, the opening by Azerbaijan and other Caspian states of new large infrastructure facilities on the Caspian coast should be an important and alarming signal for the Russian authorities. The Russian ports of Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala, which are in a protracted crisis, may be left out of the new economic integration of the Caspian countries, which will have an extremely negative impact on the socio-economic development of the Caspian regions of the Russian Federation and the living conditions of ordinary Russian citizens.