Ship from Kazakhstan works for occupants at the Ukrainian shelf of the Black Sea

Catamaran SAIRAM for geotechnical and geophysical works Photo by

Russia keeps using occupied territories for its own enrichment by plundering Ukrainian natural resources in Black and Azov Seas.

For several years, Russian state JSC «Yuzhmorgeologia» actively conducts shelf exploration in Black and Azov Seas, including Ukrainian areas temporarily occupied by Russia. As our investigation uncovered, Caspian Engineering Company, the Kazakh partner, is involved into illegal shelf exploration by the Russian company. The Kazakh partner renders the ship from its fleet through Astrakhan LLC «Kaspiigeoservis» for the geological exploration of the Ukrainian shelf of the Black Sea. We found documents confirming that drilling pontoon-catamaran SAIRAM entered, at least, two times the Crimean water area within incomplete year.

The site of Kazakh Caspian Engineering Company informs that its technological fleet includes, inter alia, drilling pontoon-catamaran for geotechnical and geophysical works SAIRAM.

Caspian Engineering Company registered in Aktau carries out a wide range of services in the field of geologic-geophysical, engineering and exploration works. As company’s website informs the company implemented a number of projects about surveying resources of the sea shelf and installing jackup rigs on drilling places in the water area of the Caspian Sea. The company also proposes research ships and servicing ships as well as equipment for sea works, land works and works in transit zones.

SAIRAM ship is used for drilling engineering and geological wells at places where jackup rigs will be installed; for testing engineering and geological wells, static probing; for selecting seabed soils and conducting field surveys of soils, express analyses of soils. The crew: shift personnel – two persons, special personnel – ten people. It has complex of drilling and geotechnical equipment, laboratory etc.

SAIRAM ship is also mentioned in the technical project «Janis Operating» launched for exploiting oil well in Caspian Sea, in accordance with the contract between the Republic of Kazakhstan, NK «KazMunaiGas» and LLC «Lukoil Kazakhstan Upstream». It is expected that the drilling pontoon SAIRAM will be used for geotechnical surveys of the well.

It is remarkable that both – the website of Caspian Engineering Company and the project «Janis Operating» – include the photo of SAIRAM catamaran with the blue flag of Kazakhstan.
However, when the ship was noticed in the «Crimean trip», it had the Russian flag whereas port documents indicated Russian LLC «Kaspiigeoservis» as the ship owner. This company is registered in Astrakhan and founded by three physical persons not related to the Kazakh company.

PHOTO: Drilling pontoon-catamaran SAIRAM

It was very difficult to monitor the change of the flag, owner or operator of SAIRAM ship. It does not have neither IMO identification code, nor MMSI code. The database of Global Integrated Shipping Information System does not contain any information about SAIRAM. The commercial service Marinetraffic does have an information about the ship with the same name but this ship is fishing boat and it has the flag of India.

At the same time, according to IMO, «Kaspiigeoservis» owns only one ship – the research ship NDS «Ikrjaninski» (IMO: 8228608; the flag of Russia). It is possible that the ship does not have identification codes of IMO or MMSI under one condition – the ship does not leave the water area of its port.

However, we can state that the drilling catamaran SAIRAM entered closed Crimean ports, at least, two times during incomplete year; it worked on the shelf of the Black Sea and it is situated in Crimea during April 2021.

There might be the following reasons behind this strange situation. The Kazakh company leased its ship to the Russian company and did not know (or – it ignored) that it would be used in the occupied water area of Crimea and that it would conduct exploration works on the shelf being the subject of EU and US sanctions. Russians bought the ship. Or Kazakh and Russian companies deliberately hide Kazakh origins of the ship. We do not have reliable information supporting any of the options mentioned. We sent an inquiry to the Caspian Engineering Company but did not receive an answer by the time of publication. The Center for Journalist Investigations will obligatorily publish the answer when we will receive it.

Below is the evidence supporting our statement about SAIRAM violating the regime of international sanctions.

In accordance with AIS, tugboats «Shkval» and «Portovy-14» left Russian port «Azov» (in the mouth of Don River) and went to Astrakhan on June 11, 2020. They went back with SAIRAM and delivered it to the Crimean port «Chornomorske» (technological port of the state joint stock company «Chornomornaftogas»). Tugboat «Shkval» put SAIRAM on the external raid of Vuzka Bay on June 15, 2020 evening.

SAIRAM was occasionally shot near «Chornomorske» pier by video blogger Svetlana Lapteva on June 20-21, 2020. Technological non-self-propelled pontoon with pipes, the crane and tugboat «Valerii Lobachov» (Russian flag; MMSI: 273389230) stayed near SAIRAM.

PHOTO: Screenshot by YouTube Svetlana Lapteva

PHOTO: Screenshot by YouTube Svetlana Lapteva

Tugboats «Valerii Lobachov» and MB MIRNYI (MMSI: 273393090) regularly moved around since June 22, 2020. They secured SAIRAM’s works (they towed the ship to the point; transported and installed anchors etc.). SAIRAM was towed by tugboats to the area of illegal works on June 25, 2020.

As our source told us, the ship was located near Golitsynske field and the jackup rig «Petro Godovanets» (illegally renamed by occupants to Crimea-2) for conducting geotechnical surveys on August 13, 2020. For security reasons, we cannot disclose our source.

Below is the screenshot of the document titled «The Schedule of Ship Movement in Azov Sea Port». It was published at the website of the Azov branch of the Administration of Azov Sea Ports. The file had pdf format and the title «ГРАФИК ДЕНЬ(173)». Later the file was deleted from the website but it has been stored in google cache. The file contains very important information.

Source: Administration of Azov Sea Ports,

In accordance with the document, the tugboat «Portovy-14» towed SAIRAM to the Russian port «Azov» on November 25, 2020. The ship’s route has been indicated as follows: from Crimean port «Kerch» to Russian port «Astrakhan». SAIRAM was towed to Astrakhan by internal water routes of the Russian Federation at the beginning of December.

We also found cache file from the website of the Administration of Taman Port about ship transit through Kerch Strait. In accordance with the port record, SAIRAM (Russian flag; ship owner – «Kaspiigeoservise») with tugboat «Shkval» crossed the Kerch Strait on April 26, 2021. It went from Russian port «Azov» to occupied Sebastopol. The same route was indicated last year.

Brichenok Maksim Robertovich was indicated as the owner of the tugboat. The Russian register contains the following record about the person with the same name. He is the head and founder of Sankt Petersburg companies «Neva-charter», «Nevskii buksir» and «Beluga heavy lift and towndge». Their main activity is the sea shipping transportation.

LLC «Kait shipping» from Temruk was indicated as the agent company of both ships this time. The company actively works in ports of occupied Crimea.

It should be noted that Kazakhstan tries to be cautious on issues related to Crimea. The Kazakh authorities do not recognize temporarily occupied Ukrainian peninsula as the «subject of Russia»; they are also cautious about status of Crimea on maps and in school manuals. When «the Crimean question» is discussed at the international level, official Kazakhstan supports Russia or abstains.

However, Kazakh representatives are far less cautious under other circumstances, and the Russian aggressor receives necessary equipment. These cases should not be ignored. Violators of the sanction regime about Crimea occupied and plundered by Russia as well as violators of the Ukrainian state border should be brought to justice.