For many years, coastal navigation has connected republics in the former Soviet Union. It used the only outlet from the Caspian, the Volga-Don canal, which connects the Black Sea and the Russian canal system to the Baltic. It is still used to transport raw materials, timber, coal, grain, fertilisers, and other products. However, 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.
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)