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Kazakhstan, UAE in Talks to Increase Tanker Fleet for Oil Exports via Caspian & Black Sea Regions

By Vusala Abbasova March 31, 2023

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The CIMS joint venture was officially registered and launched its operations in February 2023.

The Abu Dhabi Ports Group (ADP), a major logistics company, and KazMunayGas, the state-owned oil company of Kazakhstan, met to discuss expanding the Caspian Integrated Maritime Solutions (CIMS) tanker fleet. The fleet’s aim is to transport oil across the Caspian and Black Sea regions.

Magzum Mirzagaliyev, the Chairman of KazMunayGas, and Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, the Group CEO and Managing Director of AD Ports Group, attended the meeting.

According to the press release issued on Thursday, the two sides plan to add tankers with a deadweight capacity ranging from 8,000 to 12,000 tonnes to the fleet. The CIMS joint venture was officially registered and launched its operations in February 2023. 

The Caspian littoral states place great importance on the development of maritime transport. The Caspian Sea's role has grown significantly in light of the restructuring of global supply chains.

Although most Kazakhstani petroleum is exported through Russia, the country is exploring options to expand the export of crude oil via non-Russian routes due to Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine. Recently, a Japanese company, Inpex, conducted a trial shipment of oil from Kashagan, one of the world's largest oil fields, to the Caspian port of Aktau via rail. A Kazakh-owned tanker transported the oil across the Caspian Sea and unloaded it at a facility near the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. The oil was then loaded into rail tanks and transported to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs to Türkiye.

To achieve the goal of increasing oil exports via the Caspian Sea to 20 million tonnes annually, Kazakhstan plans to implement several measures aimed at attracting investment in port infrastructure, container creation, transport, and logistics hubs. 

Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest crude oil exporter globally, holding three percent of the world’s total oil reserves. It is the third-largest oil producer in the Caspian region, after Russia and Iran, but lacks direct access to the ocean. Kazakhstan does not have a pipeline to export Kazakh gas to the EU, and Novorossiysk on the Black Sea is the primary route for exporting oil from the world’s largest landlocked country.

With over 70 percent of its oil exports going to the EU, Kazakhstan is already the third-largest non-OPEC supplier of the bloc. The EU is considered one of the most significant markets for energy exporters due to its lack of domestic resources.