Georgian ports need to improve their services and logistical connectivity in order to maintain the country’s position as a key transit corridor for the Caucasus, said Jacob Gulmann, ICTSI Europe, Middle East and Africa Business Development Director at the 6th Black Sea Ports and Shipping 2017.
The biggest annual conference on container ports and terminal operations in the Black Sea region took place on 18-19 May in Batumi, Georgia and was co-hosted by Batumi Sea Port Limited and Batumi International Container Terminal (BICT), the exclusive container terminal in the port owned by ICTSI.
In his presentation, Mr. Gulmann highlighted that Georgia’s role as a logistics corridor to the Caucasus and Central Asia region is facing a growing threat from the ports in Iran and West Asia. These trends prompt BICT “to take action and expand in order to be able to compete and be at par with the best ports in the world,” said Mr. Gulmann.
BICT’s current annual capacity is 150,000 TEU. For the expansion, BICT looks to increase it up to 200,000 TEU by adding more machinery (another 100-ton capacity mobile harbor crane, 4 more reach stackers, increase empty handlers to 4) and deepen its draft to 12m.
According to the data supplied by ICTSI, since 2014, Georgian ports have been suffering a decline in container throughput due to economic weakness and the re-emergence of Iran. Indeed, as we wrote earlier, unlike other countries in the Black Sea region, Georgian exports dropped by 14.93% and imports by 11.56% in 2016, as compared to 2015.
In order to regain the volumes Georgian ports would have to improve their services and connectivity to the hinterland. Currently the country is working on over 800 km of road network and rail construction projects, estimated at around USD 3.5 bln.
“With these road construction projects and terminal equipment acquisitions, we feel it can help us serve our clients better and be able to grow and expand our business in Georgia,” added Mr. Gulmann.
ICTSI acquired a concession to develop and operate a container terminal and a ferry and dry bulk handling facility in the port of Batumi in September 2007. According to the concession, ICTSI was granted a 48-year lease to operate Batumi International Container Terminal. Today the facility has a 284m long container berth and a 14-hectare yard area, with the customs warehouse of 625 sq. m. The terminals is equipped with 2 mobile harbor cranes averaging 35 moves per hour.