Poti, Georgia (PortSEurope) February 12, 2020 – Georgia is the only Black Sea littoral state, which has no deep-water port. For more than three years it has tried to build one in Anaklia, but at the end of 2019 the project was stopped due to inability of the consortium in charge of Anaklia Deep Sea Port to find financing, behind the scenes pressure from Russia
and unconvincing government support. Another Georgian port Poti, managed by the Netherlands based APM Terminals, has asked Georgian government for permission to expand the port and turn it into a deep water facility. This idea probably also contributed to the demise of the Anaklia project. In a press release on February 4, APM Terminals Poti said that it has presented its two-stage plan for the creation of a deep-water port to the Georgia government. The first phase will require an investment of over $250 million ($230.34 million) of private capital and when the whole project is completed in about two years, the annual capacity of the port will double to over 1 million TEU. In April 2019, Georgian government announced support for a deep sea port in Poti, but in a bizarre move, almost immediately Economy Minister denied the information, claiming that the document for the construction of a deep sea port in Poti has been cancelled. Georgian ports cannot take vessels of more than about 3,000 TEU due to draft restrictions. Poti is controlled by the Maersk’s APM Terminals which already in 2011 said that it wants to develop a deep sea port there. Poti, only 35 kilometres south of Anaklia, is currently the largest sea port in Georgia, able to handle 6-6.5 million tons of cargo per year. Its capacity has never been fully utilised. It presently handles 85% of the country’s container traffic. It is very likely that the deep sea port project in Poti will face exactly the same obstacles from Russia which does not want a competitor for its Novorossiysk port, the nearest Black Sea deep water port, luring to Poti west-bound Asian cargo that currently transits via Russia. Moscow also has other political and territorial issues with Georgia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic Abkhaz in Georgia with Russian military support fought a war against the Georgian government in 1992-93. In August 2008, Russia recognised the territory as independent – all major countries consider it part of Georgia. Also, in 2008, Russia occupied Georgia’s South Ossetia. Moscow also dislikes the idea that a future Poti deep sea port could welcome large U.S. Navy ships and offer them a base on the eastern shores of Black Sea which Russia considers one of its primary spheres of interest. Georgia is also a country aspiring to join NATO. In 2019, Georgia’s government extended the deadline for Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) for submitting financial closer documents -for the sixth time by six months – until mid-December 2019, but then cancelled the project. In the Black Sea there are several ports that are considered deep water facilites: Romanian Constanta; Ukrainian Odessa, Chornomorsk, Pivdenny; Turkish Erdemir and Rize; Bulgarian Burgas and Russia’s Novorossiysk, Tuapse and Taman, which is still under construction. But Istanbul is really the major container port serving the Black Sea, despite being technically a Sea of Marmara port, handling some 60% of all volumes. Constanta (with a 12% share) and Novorossiysk (with 8% share) are the two other main Black Sea ones, with Poti, Odessa and Varna (Bulgaria) each making smaller contributions to the container cargo volumes. Bulgarian largest port – Varna – has two channels with depth slightly more than 11 metres and plans for dredging them up to 14 metres which will turn it into a deep sea port. The Varna lake part of the port and the turnaround channel will also be dredged as part of the BGN 350 million (€179 million) government-funded project, which aims to attract cargo from the China’s new Silk Road project and the new trans-Caspian transport corridor. Some 8 million tonnes of material will be dredged the channels and lake bottoms, and the channels’ banks will be fortified. Burgas to the South is often described as a deep sea port but in reality its draft is only 11 metres. Deep water ports are also defined to be any port which has the capability to accommodate a fully laden Panamax ship (determined principally by the dimensions of the Panama Canal’s lock chambers’ 12 metres draft). Black Sea has one more limitation – the Bosphorus Strait doesn’t allow the transit of ships larger than 10,000 TEU. As a result, Istanbul has developed into a transshipment point for large vessels coming from Asia and North Europe, with 2,000 TEU feeders being used to service ports inside the Black Sea. The largest Russian Black Sea port – Novorossiysk – has a draft of 15.6 metres. As of September 2019 the new NUTEP’s deep water Berth 38, which will be able to receive 10,000 TEU vessels at its Novorossiysk (Novorosiisk) terminal. The port is operated by NCSP. The new 389 metres long berth, which costs $125 million (114.9 million euro) and has water depth of 15 metres. In the short term, the largest vessels expected to berth there will be of 8,000 TEU, later increasing to 10,000 TEU. This is the first such deep water berth available at any of Russia’s southern ports. Port of Tuapse has a draft of 13.7 metres. Port Taman has a draft of 20 metres. The RMP (RosMorPort) Taman consortium, which will get the concession for the management of the new Russian port of Taman, is expected to include five companies: RosMorPort, MetaloInvest, KuzbassRazrezUgol, Russian Railways (RZD) and SUEK. Taman port is strategically located on the Russian side of the Kerch Strait that connects Black with Azov seas. It is on Cape Zheleznyy Rog (Iron Horn) across the strait from Russia occupied Crimea peninsula that is legally part of Ukraine. The largest Ukrainian port – Odessa – has a draft of 13 metres. The Ukrainian city of Chornomorsk, where the port is located used to be named Illichivsk/Illichevsk, but due to “decommunisation” laws Chornomorsk gained its current name in February 2016. The port, some 30 km South of Odessa, has a maximum draft of 13 metres. Pivdenny Sea Port or Yuzhnyy/Yuzhniy, some 30 km north of Odessa, has a draft of 14.5 metres. Romania’s Constanta is the largest Black Sea port and the 17th largest in Europe. It also acts as the point of entry for transit cargo by barge on the Danube River to Central Europe. The Port of Constanta has a draft 19 metres. Turkish Port of Erdemir (officially Port of Karadeniz Ereğli or shortly Er-Port) has water depth of 14 metres. Port of Rize also has water depth of 14 metres. Although vessel sizes entering the Black Sea cannot exceed 10,000 TEU, there is already one service from Asia with ships of that size that makes weekly calls at Istanbul, Constanta and Odessa. PortSEurope Relevant Reading: Analysis – The Port of Mariupol: A Chinese piece in Ukrainian-Russian Azov Sea puzzle February 13, 2020 Analysis – Anaklia deep sea port threatened by APM Terminals Poti port expansion February 4, 2020 Analysis – In a win for Russia, Anaklia deep sea port project descends into chaos September 1, 2019 Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2020.