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Kazakhstan oil industry

Journal of Energy Security

Norwegian Helsinki committee:

Recent events in Ukraine and Russia’s anti-Western rhetoric and military posture force European energy consumers to look for alternatives for Russian hydrocarbons. One of the possible suppliers of both oil and gas could be Kazakhstan, which boasts the largest hydrocarbon resources in the oil-rich Caspian basin.

Kazakhstan is among the top 15 countries in the world when it comes to essential oil reserves, having 3% of the world's total oil reserves. Oil and gas areas comprise 62% of the country, and there are 172 oil fields, of which more than 80 are under development. More than 90% of oil reserves are concentrated in the 15 largest oil fields, including the giants: Tengiz, Kashagan, Karachaganak, etc.

Kazakhstan, wedged between China and Russia, is seeking economic opportunities that cannot be found in cooperation with Russia alone. The country is happy to develop its massive oil and gas reserves, but is seeking to develop industrial production and post-industrial services.

Astana’s calculus is pretty reasonable - according to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Oil and Gas, proven hydrocarbon reserves, both onshore and offshore, are estimated to amount to 4.8 billion tons, or more than 30 billion barrels. Not all of the reserves are fully prospected.

Many experts believe that there are probably more reserves of oil and gas in fields located in the Kazakh section of the Caspian Sea, with additional 17 billion tons or 124.3 billion barrels there. Given these impressive reserves as well as the ever-increasing production volumes, in the foreseeable future, Kazakhstan is much likely to remain among top global oil producers.

Astana is constructing a unified energy system across its three time zones, to fully meet electricity demand in the country. It plans to become less dependent on Russia, which is still supplying it with some electricity - a legacy of the Soviet central planning. The energy grid of Kazakhstan is linked to Russia since the collapse of the USSR. Implementation of this program will bring thousands of jobs throughout the country and require more gas.

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