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"Aframax" type tanker "Shusha" launched

Another significant project has been undertaken in line with the implementation of the relevant tasks assigned by President Ilham Aliyev, aiming to increase the cargo transportation potential in water basins outside the Caspian Sea by expanding the operational geography of "Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping" CJSC (ASCO).

Within the framework of the project, with the approval of the Supervisory Board of SOCAR and ASCO, the Joint Venture "SA Maritime AFEZCO" was incorporated on a parity basis and registered in the Alat Free Economic Zone. Following market research, the Joint Venture initially carried out the necessary procedures for acquiring three "Aframax" type tankers, each with deadweight (i.e., gross carrying capacity) of approximately 115,000 tons. Two of these tankers are owned by a third party, while one tanker is owned by SOCAR.

The "Aframax" type tankers will be operated and managed by "ASCO Ship Management AFEZCO," a wholly-owned subsidiary of ASCO registered in the Alat Free Economic Zone. This company intends to increase the number of vessels under its management, provide management services for other vessels owned by third parties and expand its activities by performing services meeting the leading international requirements.

Until now, the largest vessel operated in the shipping history of Azerbaijan had deadweight of 13,000 tons. Thus, with the acquisition of "Aframax" type tankers, which are approximately 10 times larger than the previous vessels, Azerbaijani shipping has embarked on a new era.

This project of strategic importance for our republic will also contribute to the international value chain of our oil industry. By operating outside the Caspian Sea basin "Aframax" type tankers will transport crude oil cargo supplied by SOCAR and other customers.

Following the relevant recommendations and directives of country's leader, the majority of vessels built during recent years have been named after the magnificent regions of our republic.  Especially after liberation of historical lands from occupation by triumphant Azerbaijan army under the leadership of Victorious Commander-in-Chief new vessels are named with toponyms related to Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur regions. According to head of the country directive “Aframax" type tankers launched within the framework of the joint project were assigned the names "Karabakh", "Shusha" and "Zangezur" in honor of historically sagnificant lands for people of Azerbaijan.

On June 15, 2023, on the National Salvation Day, a ceremony was held on the vessel "Shusha," the first of the "Aframax" type tankers accepted under the management of "ASCO Ship Management AFEZCO," in Singapore, far away from the borders of our country. During the ceremony, our tricolor flag was raised, and the tanker was officially put into operation.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman Rauf Valiyev stated that today, the shipping industry of Azerbaijan enters a new era, which is a logical continuation of the support shown to the shipping industry during the time of Great Leader Heydar Aliyev and his visionary and strategic vision in this field. He made significant contributions to the development of the shipping industry, including the expansion of the fleet of Azerbaijan State Caspian Sea Shipping and Caspian Sea Oil Fleet, which operated separately, with the addition of numerous new vessels of diverse purposes. These efforts were carried out during his leadership in Azerbaijan as well as his tenure in the Supreme Leadership of the USSR. Those vessels played an invaluable role in the development of the economy, especially during the early and challenging years of our independence. They were instrumental in the successful implementation of significant projects such as the "Contract of the Century" and other offshore oil and gas projects.

The Chairman also emphasized that President Ilham Aliyev is effectively carrying forward the modern transport and shipping policies. In particular, the acquisition of “Aframax” type tankers became possible by virtue of direct support and attention of the head of state to this sphere.

Rauf Valiyev emphasized that 2023, declared as the "Year of Heydar Aliyev," holds great significance for Azerbaijani seafarers. As such, this year, our sailors are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Great Leader, the 165th anniversary of Azerbaijani Shipping, and the 10th anniversary of the incorporation of the "Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping" Closed Joint-Stock Company, which was reorganized by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. In such a significant year, these vessels with unlimited sailing capabilities, bearing the names of the historical lands of Azerbaijan and sailing under our national flag will proudly promote our country in the waters of the world and become a symbol of our Motherland.

The chairman added that the funds raised from the successful issuance of ASCO bonds on the local market some time ago were directed towards financing ASCO's share in the project to purchase Aframax-type vessels.

Later the flag of Azerbaijan was raised on the vessel to the sound of the national anthem.

The Chairman of ASCO presented the vessel captain with a souvenir about Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan.

It should be noted that the commissioning of two more "Aframax" type tankers, namely "Karabakh" and "Zangezur," outside the Caspian Sea, is nearing completion. The vessels will be commissioned sequentially in the upcoming weeks.