The oil boom has changed the way the Caspian Sea is used as a transport route. In the absence of an agreement on the use of the seabed, including the laying of pipelines, crude oil is transported in tanker wagons rolled onto ferries or in small tankers. This has stimulated the ferry business. The shipyards at Nizhny Novgorod have recently delivered several 8 000 or 13 000 deadweight tonnage tankers, the largest that can be used given the limitations on access to the sea and its ports. Ferry services connecting Aktau and Turkmenbashi to Baku, and Olia to the coast of Iran are being supplemented by coastal rail links, all impacting on and introducing new risks to the natural and living environment of the growing population in the coastal areas of the Caspian Sea. The European Union’s TRACECA programme (TRAnsport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) modernized the Baku-Turkmenbashi ferry line, for long the only one, and added a Baku-Aktau service to Kazakhstan. To counter competition from this new Silk Road, Russia has launched a project to build a north-south link, connecting the Baltic and Russia to Iran and the Persian Gulf. It has opened a new port at Olia, on the Volga delta, connected to the river and canal system, and to the rail network that runs parallel to the river, providing for fast container transport. It also has plans to supplement the maritime route by developing a coastal rail link, modernizing the existing track between Azerbaijan and Iran.
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From collection: Vital Caspian Graphics 2 - Opportunities, Aspirations and Challenges, 2012
Philippe Rekacewicz (le Monde Diplomatique) assisted by Laura Margueritte and Cecile Marin, later updated by Riccardo Pravettoni (GRID-Arendal), Novikov, Viktor (Zoi Environment Network)