Amid the rapid economic growth in the Caspian Sea region, Azerbaijan has seen impressive expansion in the past nine years, with a nine fold increase in its GDP. In order to keep up with this development and secure its place as an international player, the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan is investing heavily in infrastructure and economic regeneration with a number of redevelopment programmes.

At the centre of this development is Baku city and its bay, which are being transformed into a modern waterfront development. As a result the current port of Baku, situated in the middle of the bay, and other industrial marine infrastructure, is to be moved away from the city centre.

In early 2009 The Ministry of Transport of Azerbaijan awarded Royal HaskoningDHV a contract to provide complete design and engineering services, including initial site investigations, port master plan, plus tender and construction support. Once the new port is complete, it will provide a modern international gateway to the Caspian Sea. Construction commenced in 2010 and is expected to be completed around 2014.

The specifics

As part of the programme, the existing port will be demolished, while a new port will be constructed at an undeveloped site some 65 km south of the city at Alyat. Commenting on the project, Royal HaskoningDHV’s Port and Maritime Consultant, Bunno Arends said: “We are developing a Port Master Plan that will include all site investigation works involving bathymetry, topography and geotechnical soil investigations. In addition, the design of the port will include dredging and reclamation works, marine structures and onshore facilities, leading onto preparation of the tender documents for the construction of Phase1 of the new port.”

Creating the new

Currently, the Port of Baku is a main hub on the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) corridor that connects Europe via the Caucasus and Caspian Sea with Central Asia and China. Its location will significantly impact on North-South corridor trade as well, allowing fast and reliable cargo services between Russia’s north-west and Persian Gulf states and Indian Ocean. It is therefore vital that the new port will be able to further expand as the area continues to develop. In parallel EU seeks to support the development of contemporary International Logistics Centre in the close vicinity to the new port. “The main focus of the new port will be a rail ferry terminal connecting the ports of Aktau, Kazakhstan and Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan, to Baku. With around only 30 train ferry systems in the world, they are not widely used. The new port will also provide a general cargo terminal, cargo handling facilities, Ro/Ro facilities and a passenger terminal.” The further developments envisage the construction of large container terminal facilities at the new port.

Rebuilding the old

While the port of Baku, transport hub and other industrial facilities relocate, Baku Bay will be transformed from an industrial bay into a modern waterfront, including prime real estate developments. Once relocation completes, traffic levels in the city should be improved, creating an improved environment and city experience.

Meanwhile, the area around Alyat, will see improvements to its economy as opportunities for new developments and jobs become available and improvements to infrastructure such as water, sewage and electricity networks are made.

Milestones

Dredging works were completed in 2012, while the main construction works contract including the quay walls, ferry terminal and main port infrastructure will be awarded in 2013.

“Royal HaskoningDHV is delighted to be working with The Ministry of Transport of Azerbaijan to help it achieve its redevelopment ambitions by creating a rail ferry and cargo terminal in a contemporary and sustainable new port gateway hub that will serve Baku and the TRACECA corridor for generations to come.” Bunno concluded.