The Business Year

Chandru Rajwani

President, Caspian Shipyard Company

Elchin Mirzoev

General Director, Baku International Sea Trade Port

What does Azerbaijan mean to Keppel and the Caspian Shipyard Company? CHANDRU RAJWANI Keppel invested in a yard here in Azerbaijan to be near our customers in the Caspian region […]

What does Azerbaijan mean to Keppel and the Caspian Shipyard Company?

CHANDRU RAJWANI Keppel invested in a yard here in Azerbaijan to be near our customers in the Caspian region and better meet their needs. We recognized from early on that the Caspian was a region with significant growth potential. At the time we came to Azerbaijan, the country had just gained independence and was seeking strong partners in the oil and gas sector. We, therefore, started Caspian Shipyard Company (CSC) with SOCAR and Lukoil. SOCAR has indeed been an excellent partner for us in that respect.

What is the history of the Baku International Sea Trade Port?

ELCHIN MIRZOEV The current port was built in 1939 and handles 6 million to 7 million tons of cargo each year. In the past five years, we have renovated all the terminals. Nonetheless, Azerbaijan plans to relocate the container terminal to Alat, where a new port that is fully compliant with international standards is currently being built. The relocation is scheduled to take place sometime in 2014. The current port will be converted into a pedestrian zone. Its capacity has been growing consistently since the early 1990s, when the only terminal that was operating properly was the dry cargo terminal. Since Azerbaijan’s independence, the port has benefited from the positive business environment in the country, which attracted international business, and now operates as a transshipment point in the region. In recent years, activity at the port peaked in 2003, when 5 million tons of cargo passed through it. From 2004 to 2007, this figure decreased gradually, but it picked up again in 2008. In 2013, 1.4 million tons of dry cargo passed through our port. The transport sector is a barometer of the state of the economy. If transport doesn’t work, economic growth stalls. Transport is a channel between domestic economic activity and international markets, as it allows imports and exports.

What is the long-time objective of your partnership with SOCAR?

CR We want to put Azerbaijan at the forefront of the oil and gas industry, such that if your project requires something to be built in the Caspian region, you come to Baku for it. Azerbaijan has the people, the government, and the desire to develop the offshore and marine industry to international standards. We have people who have been with us for 10 or 15 years, and some since the company began operations. Most of our department heads are Azerbaijani, thanks in part to Keppel’s perseverance and faith in the country’s potential and SOCAR’s support.

What kind of opportunities will there be for private companies in Alat?

EM Most of the businesses interested in the port are medium-sized enterprises. Large enterprises that have been operating in the Baku port will be relocated to Alat, too. There are some mid-sized enterprises that offer maintenance services. They will often need our cranes, and they are also buying property located close to Alat to cut down on their future expenses. Sometimes there is a contract that a large company may not be interested in, but that an SME can handle. To date, the port is a source of income for the state treasury and provides numerous job opportunities. There are around 1,000 employees that live in the port area. Our oil terminal is 40 kilometers away. The majority of the oil terminal employees are hired locally.



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