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Kazakhstan news roundup

The new year has brought with it a number of developments from Kazakhstan, mostly centred around renewed development of oil fields in the Caspian Sea. Read on for the latest news from this region:


Plans revealed for Caspian oil development

The Kazakh Energy Ministry has announced it will be conducting a conceptual study of the Kalamkas-Sea oil field, which is located in the Caspian Sea, in 2016. This will occur alongside similar projects in the region that will see a range of oil and gas fields developed, such as the Aktoty, Kairan and South-West Kashagan fields.

All this will occur as part of Kazakhstan's North Caspian Project. The Kalamkas-Sea field is estimated to hold up to 159 million tons of oil, with recoverable reserves thought to be around 57 million tons. The project is also promising in that conditions for oil production are better there than at other fields.

However, this is not to say that Kazakhstan is only interested in developing Kalamkas-Sea. Evaluation work is being carried out on the Aktoty and Kairan fields, and exploration will be undertaken in the Kurmangazy field this year after monitoring abandoned wells in the region.

Speaking about the Kalamkas-Sea project, the Kazakh Energy Ministry said: "Based on the research results, plan and budget for the field’s development will be prepared, after which the forecasted period for the start of production will be available."


TCO expansion could cost $30bn

Tengizchevroil (TCO), the largest oil producer in Kazakhstan, has plans to massively expand its production in the west of the country. Estimates from the Kazakh economy minister, Yerbolat Dosayev, puts the cost of the project at around $30 billion, which is a significant amount less than was originally planned.

Initially, the expansion was valued at as much as $40 billion when it was announced in 2014. TCO claimed it was attempting to cut costs last year, and the approach seems to have worked. The aim was to reduce the cost by between $3 billion and $4 billion.

The expansion will begin this spring. The plan is to increase oil production from 27 million tons per year to 38 million tons by 2021.


Kazakhstan in negotiation with Russia over oil and gas fields

The Central region of the Caspian Sea, which is owned by Russia, is the subject of intense negotiation as Kazakhstan hopes to gain rights for subsoil use in the area. Currently, exploration is stalled due to a clause stating that Kazakh partners must be brought in to develop the field clashing with a Russian ban on private firms working in the region.

In October last year, both the Russian and Kazakh presidents signed an agreement that would allow the geologic exploration and production of oil and gas in the Central field. As such, Kazakhstan expects its neighbour to grant subsoil rights within the year, so its firms can continue exploration work in the region.

It is estimated that the Central field contains as much as 169.1 million tons of equivalent fuel, based on exploration that occurred up to 2009 before the current license ran out. once subsoil rights are granted, Kazakhstan will carry out design and survey work, as well as assessing the damage caused to aquatic bioresources by engineering work.


Turkmenistan ready to work with Kazakhstan on Pricaspiysky

The Pricaspiysky pipeline, also known as the Caspian pipeline, was planned back in 2007. It was intended to deliver Kazakh and Turkmen gas to Russia; however, when the price of gas fell in 2009 it no longer became a profitable option for Russia. Recent developments have put this option back on the table.

"Today three states have prospects for the construction of the Caspian pipeline, based on the presence of a real resource and infrastructure base," Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said on December 23rd. "I want to state that Turkmenistan is ready for interested and constructive cooperation with Kazakhstan and Russia."
However, Russia's state energy firm - Gazprom - immediately halted gas imports from Turkmenistan following this announcement. It is unclear as to what the fate of the Pricaspiysky pipeline will be.

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