A new design for construction of the Ekerem port on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea will be presented to Turkmenneft in May or June of this year, according to Vyborg Shipbuilding Factory Deputy Director Alexey Titov. 'After the plan is introduced, agreements shall be reached on the volume and cost of construction,' he added. Vyborg Shipbuilding Factory signed an agreement with the Turkmen state company Turkmenneft to become the project's general contractor in October of last year. The port complex is expected to be completed by 2010. The first stage calls for the building of an oil and oil products loading station where construction could begin in one year, said Titov. The project also calls for the building of a gas terminal and complexes for the loading of freight.
Titov said that the project would be realized through a barter scheme where Turkmenistan pays Russia for the construction of the port with natural gas. He said that last year Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov signed an agreement where Russia would pay for Turkmen gas with either cash or products from its companies. Titov said, however, that other means of payment are also being discussed. He did not rule out the possibility that Gazprom and other Russian companies could also become investors in the project.