Kazakhstan’s Port Set to Play Key Role for Future of Trans-Caspian Route

ASTANA – Companies and authorities in Kazakhstan are taking significant steps to expand the country’s logistics capacity along the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR). One particular node that draws attention is Port Kuryk,  a relatively new facility on the Caspian Sea. 

Kuryk port. Photo credit Semurg Invest. Click to see the map in full size. The map is designed by The Astana Times.

The port on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea in the Mangystau Region was commissioned in 2017 following two years of construction. It is now set to become one of the key contributors in the development of TITR, also known as the Middle Corridor – the route running through China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Türkiye and further to European countries. 

The development of TITR was the main item on the agenda of the two meetings of the ministers of foreign affairs and transportation of Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Türkiye that took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Aktau, Kazakhstan, in June and November 2022, respectively. 

Kuryk port. Photo credit: Semurg Invest.

Port Kuryk is located 70 kilometers south from the city and port of Aktau and has a depth of seven meters. The seaport includes the Ferry Complex, which belongs to Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national railway company, and Sarzha multifunctional marine terminal owned and operated by Semurg Invest. Sarzha incorporates five new terminals: a container terminal, a grain terminal, an oil terminal, a transport and logistics center and a production yard. The transport and logistics center’s bonded warehouse and parking are already functioning.

The port currently operates solely via the ferry complex launched in 2017. 

With a total annual capacity of six million tons, the complex transshipped 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2022. The main cargo includes oil products, chemicals, metals, fast moving consumer goods for exports, food products, industrial equipment, cars, and construction materials for imports. The other three new terminals at Sarzha are expected to increase transshipment capacity by 10 million tons annually in the near future. 

Madina Anet.

“Semurg’s five main terminals will start operating soon; the first part of the project is expected to launch as early as May this year with the first grain terminal with a capacity of 1.5 million tons per year nearing the finish line. The construction of a two-sided berth is mostly completed, while the 14 kilometers rail to all terminals is finished,” Semurg Invest’s Business Development Director Madina Anet told The Astana Times. “The container terminal is being designed and is expected to launch in 2024. Containerization is a rapidly developing trend, which will enable us to transport goods from China and Kazakhstan to Europe.”

Anet also commented on the role of the oil terminal in the Kazakh economy, given the current geopolitical situation.

“As Kazakhstan is set to diversify its oil export routes due to the geopolitical tensions in the region, the recurring disruptions at the Caspian Consortium Pipeline (CPC) and increasing oil production in the country, the oil terminal of Port Kuryk will be key in realizing President Tokayev’s vision of increasing oil exports through the Middle Corridor up to 20 million tons per year,” she added.

“The initial project’s annual capacity is 5.5 million tons, with the possibility of expansion. Currently, around 80 percent of Kazakh oil reaches international markets via the CPC pipeline, which runs through Russia to the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk,” Anet explained.

The construction of new terminals at Port Kuryk will have a multiplier effect on Kazakhstan’s economy by creating new jobs, increasing cargo flow transit and trade turnover, and allowing Kazakhstan to have a choice of export routes.

“Semurg Invest is interested in cooperation with co-investors. For example, the container terminal is being built under a cooperation agreement signed in January with a UAE-based port operator, AD Ports, during the visit of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to Abu Dhabi,” said Anet. 

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