President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev reminded the Eurasian Economic Union member states at the EAEU summit in Sochi on May 14 about the plans to build a ship canal to link the Black and Caspian Seas and this way to provide access for Kazakhstan and Central Asian states to the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Nazarbayev offered to consider construction of the Eurasia highway, which will run through Russia and Kazakhstan and will link Europe and Asia.
Nazarbayev suggested construction of the ship canal back in 2007, then in April 2014.
The idea of such canal dates back to the Russian Empire time. In USSR, Manich Canal was considered, but it was not built because of the war. Besides, the project is very expensive, poses threat of environmental damage and water shortage to fill the canal.
The idea was revitalized in 2007 when the Russian President voiced it and the President of Kazakhstan supported him at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.
“This canal will become an important access to the sea through Russia for whole Central Asia,” President Nazarbayev said at that time. In June 2007, the government of Kazakhstan offered to build a deeper ship canal to link the Black and Caspian Seas, The Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan began studying options. Since that time, the canal idea is regularly discussed at economic forums of Kazakhstan and Russia.
In 2010, the Kazakh-Russian working group estimated the project will cost 4.5 billion Euros. In one of the options the Eurasia Canal, 700 km in length, was supposed to pass through Dagestan, Kalmykia, Stavropol Krai and Rostov region of Russia. The canal would boost transit of freights from the Central Asian states and China to the Black Sea region and Europe, primarily of oil, other raw materials and finished products. Opponents of the project say the existing pipelines and the Volga-Don Canal built in 1952 can be used for that.
The Volga-Don Canal connects the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, however it is almost fully loaded with a capacity of 16.5 million tons of freight a year. Kazakhstan and China are mostly interested in construction of the canal. Kazakhstan is the only oil producer and exporter that does not have access to the sea. The canal will allow China to shorten time of transportation of its goods to Europe and to boost trade.
Reported by AKIpress (Kyrgyzstan).