Batumi, Georgia (PortSEurope) July 14, 2019 – Speaking at the 16th Batumi International Conference, Georgian Minister of Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili has repeated the government’s support for the Anaklia deep sea port. The minister was quoted as saying that the Anaklia port is a trans-European project, and an additional opportunity for European and Asian businesspeople to connect with one another via Georgia and with the help of Georgia.
Last April, Anaklia Deep Sea Port, the Georgia Black Sea construction project, was again put in doubt after the announcement of Georgian government support for a rival project in the nearby port of Poti, and the almost immediate denial by the Economy Minister, claiming that the document for the construction of a deep sea port in Poti has been cancelled.
The Georgian government said it was actively working with international banks and had high hopes that the private investor, Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC), will meet its obligations amid such support.
ADC which won the state tender to construct the Anaklia Deep Sea Port and signed a deal with the government in 2016, has faced problems in attracting funds for the $2.5 billion (€2.23 billion) project. ADC consists of TBC Holding from Georgia, Conti International (USA), SSA Marine (USA), British Wondernet Express working in Central Asia, and G-Star Ltd. from Bulgaria (the company has Georgian owners and seems to operate as an offshore investment vehicle).
Anaklia Deep Sea Port is to be constructed in nine phases, the last one to be completed in a very distant 2069, when the port will have depth of 20.5 metres, 32 berths and a free trade and industrial zone of 600 hectares.
The main reasons for the lack of progress in the construction of Anaklia Deep Sea Port could be behind the scene pressure from Russia and China, a personal vendetta between two of Georgia richest and most powerful men, a refusal of international banks to finance the private project without state guaranties and/or lack of future cargo volumes.
Russia does not want a competitor for Novorossiysk port, the nearest Black Sea deep-water port, luring to Anaklia west-bound Asian cargo that currently transits via Russia. Russia already controls the oil terminal at Poti port. Moscow also has other political and territorial issues with Georgia.
Russia might be trying to sabotage the Anaklia port project by pushing for the launch of a competing one in Poti. This will inevitably block the construction of both deep sea ports in a delay that might stretch well into the end of next decade.
China could be trying to take over the Anaklia project, the first deep-water port on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, and might be pressuring Tbilisi to oust the Georgian-American developers. This would allow China to add a jewel in the crown of its new Silk Road project and receive a strategic foothold in the Black Sea.
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