Caspian Integrated Maritime Services (CIMS) has revealed the addition of two Damen Shipyards-built tankers to its fleet.

The company, a joint venture between Kazmortransflot, the national shipping company of Kazakhstan, and Abu Dhabi-based AD Ports Group that launched in December 2022, said the 7,000-dwt tankers Liwa (ex-Maaike) and Taraz (ex-Linda, both built 2018) represented a combined investment of $35m.

Both tankers, which are “specifically tailored” for the Caspian Sea’s shallow draught requirements, will serve as shuttle tankers, undertaking consecutive voyages to move Kazakhstan’s oil to Azerbaijan.

“This service contributes significantly to the diversification of the transportation routes for oil for onward delivery to the world through the Mediterranean or Black Sea, improving Kazakhstan’s global trade footprint,” CIMS said in a media release on Sunday.

Aidar Orzhanov, general director of Kazmortransflot, said: “We are implementing this project together with our strategic partner AD Ports Group in accordance with the task of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, KKTokayev, to create alternative routes for transportation of Kazakhstani oil.

“This will allow us to efficiently, and safely, transport Kazakhstani oil in Caspian Sea for further shipment to international markets. We believe that this is only the first step of our long-term cooperation with AD Ports Group.”

The two tankers were built at Damen’s Yichang shipyard. It is unclear whether they were built on speculation or for a specific client. S&P Global’s International Ships Register shows that their ownership remained with Damen after completion, with their status listed as laid up from December 2019 until they were sold to CIMS in a deal that was concluded in September.

The two tankers were refitted at Damen’s Galati shipyard in Romania before being moved into the Caspian Sea in November and handed over to their new owner.

CIMS, in its media statement, described the Liwa and Taraz as “state-of-the-art” tankers, highlighting their inert gas systems, which the company said was a “crucial step in ensuring safety and compliance with modern standards” in the Caspian.

Captain Ammar Mubarak Al Shaiba, chief executive of AD Ports Group’s maritime and shipping cluster, said: “This investment in advanced vessels equipped with inert gas systems marks a strategic milestone for AD Ports Group.

“As we expand our footprint into shipping and global networks, we are not only ensuring the safe and efficient transport of Kazakhstan’s oil, but also setting a precedent to guide safety and security advances in the maritime industry.”

AD Ports Group holds a 51% stake in CIMS, with the remaining 49% stake held by Kazmortransflot, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kazakh National Oil Co (KazMunayGas).

The joint venture kicked off with three aframax tankers – two from Kazmortransflot and one from AD Ports Group’s shipowning arm, Safeen.

The partnership agreement covers a broad range of services that run the gamut from tankers operating in the Caspian and Black Sea trades to offshore support vessels, integrated offshore logistics and subsea solutions and, intended at a later stage, container feedering.