The EBRD is supporting the development of the first privately-owned permanent marine support and supply base in Kazakhstan with a US$32mn loan and a US$10mn equity investment.

The loan will be split in equal shares between the EBRD and commercial banks. The equity investment will provide the bank with representation at the participants’ meetings of the project company Balykshy which will contribute to the application of the highest corporate governance and environmental standards.

Balykshy, majority-owned by US-listed Caspian Services, will construct, equip and put into operation a marine support and supply base in the Bay of Bautino on the North Caspian Sea coast. The development, located in a sheltered natural and ice-free harbour, will respond to the rapidly growing demand by off-shore oil operators for fuel, water and a range of other support and supply services.

Kazakhstan is poised to become one of the world’s top 10 oil exporters within the next decade. The number of national and international companies active in the exploration of the country’s huge reserves is growing, and so are the needs for support services. Infrastructure available on the North Caspian Sea coast is insufficient to service the needs of the offshore oil operators and the need for marine base facilities is becoming increasingly urgent. The Balykshy base will be constructed alongside a state-owned facility being developed.

Peter Reiniger, EBRD business group director, underlines that the project is the first infrastructure project in Kazakhstan to be sponsored by a fully private company. The EBRD will contribute to demonstrate that there is room for private players in the rapidly expanding industry servicing the needs of oil and gas companies.

The bank’s involvement will also guarantee that highest environmental standards are being met during construction and operation, he adds.

Paul Roberts, director of Balykshy, says: “The signing of the financing agreements with the EBRD represents the culmination of almost three years of planning, design and project financing arrangements for the base. This exciting and important infrastructure development will enable Caspian Services to provide an un-paralleled range of services to the oil industry exploring the massive reserves of the Kazakhstan sector of the North Caspian Sea. The base is an environmental milestone in the region, designed to provide a clean, efficient ship to shore transfer of fuel, sewage, waste, goods, inter alia mitigating the handling exposure. Longer term it is envisaged that the base will house an oil spill response unit.”