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The oil and gas industry is the major and most rapidly growing industry in Kazakhstan. Oil and gas revenue accounts for a significant part of Kazakhstan's GDP, its Budget and foreign trade receipts. Kazakhstan holds vast hydrocarbon reserves, including potentially the third largest oil reserves in the world, following Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Proven sea and land hydrocarbon reserves of Kazakhstan are estimated at about 30 billion barrels. About 70% of those reserves are located in the west of Kazakhstan and a considerable majority of them are associated with salt deposits at the depth of more than 5000 metres. Potential oil reserves of Kazakhstan (located mainly in the Caspian Sea region) are estimated at 60 billion barrels.
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The oil and gas industry is the major and most rapidly
growing industry in Kazakhstan. Oil and gas revenue accounts for a significant
part of Kazakhstan's GDP, its Budget and foreign trade receipts. Kazakhstan
holds vast hydrocarbon reserves, including potentially the third largest
oil reserves in the world, following Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Proven sea
and land hydrocarbon reserves of Kazakhstan are estimated at about 30
billion barrels. About 70% of those reserves are located in the west
of Kazakhstan and a considerable majority of them are associated with
salt deposits at the depth of more than 5000 metres. Potential oil reserves
of Kazakhstan (located mainly in the Caspian Sea region) are estimated
at 60 billion barrels.
The majority of hydrocarbon reserves are located
in the oil- and gas-rich regions of Kashagan, Tengiz and Karachaganak.
The discovery of the Kashagan Field in 2000 is considered to be the
largest oil field discovery in the last 30 years. The Kashagan Field,
located 80 kilometres south-east of the city of Atyrau in the northern
part of the Caspian Sea region, is operated by Agip KCO. The field is
estimated to hold a maximum of 38 billion barrels of oil, of which 13
billion barrels may be potentially extracted by re-injecting acid gases.
The Tengiz Field (located along the north-east coast of the Caspian
Sea), whose estimated commercial oil reserves are about 6 billion barrels,
is operated by Tengizchevroil whose major shareholders are Chevron,
ExxonMobil, KazMunaiGaz and LUKArco. The Karachaganak Field (located
about 150 km east of the city of Uralsk in the north-west of Kazakhstan
and operated by Karachaganak Petroleum Operating) holds 50 billion cubic
feet of gas, 5.2 billion barrels of liquid condensate and 1.4 billion
barrels of oil available for commercial extraction.
Proven gas reserves in Kazakhstan amount to 3,000
billion cubic metres and estimated gas reserves amount to 5,000 billion
cubic metres. The majority of the gas reserves are located in the west
of Kazakhstan, close to the Caspian Sea region. The major gas fields
are Amangeldy, in the south, and Zhanazhol about 250 km south of the
city of Aktobe in the west of Kazakhstan.
Oil reserves were first discovered in the present-day
territory of Kazakhstan in 1899, however the oil and gas industry began
to grow rapidly only after the rich Zhetybai Field was discovered in
1961. In terms of oil extraction (about half a million barrels a day
(1991)), Kazakhstan is ranked the second (following the Russian Federation)
among the former Soviet republics.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the focus
of the policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been to encourage investors
to make significant investments in the oil and gas industry. Much emphasis
has been put on the creation of a stable legal environment for investors
in the Caspian Sea region. In the years 1999 and 2002, Kazakhstan signed
a package of agreements with the Russian Federation on defining their
sea border in the northern part of the Caspian Sea. A similar agreement
on defining the sea border was signed with the Republic of Azerbaijan
in 2002 and an agreement with Turkmenistan is currently negotiated.
The agreements clearly define property rights to fields located in the
sea area and ensure the protection of interests of investors operating
in the Caspian Sea region. Kazakhstan has begun talks with the Russian
Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan with a view to signing a comprehensive
Caspian Sea convention with all the coast countries (Kazakhstan, Russian
Federation, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan), which will also address
other important issues, including environment and biodiversity protection
in the Caspian Sea region.
In 2003, the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan
approved the National Sea Area Development Programme for the Caspian
Sea. The programme consists of three stages: (i) creation of conditions
for comprehensive development of the oil and gas sector (2003-2005);
(ii) rapid growth of the extraction level (2006-2010); and (iii) stabilisation
of the extraction level (2011-2015). The guiding idea was to make the
Caspian Sea region of Kazakhstan an area which is attractive and friendly
to investors and to maximise the mutual benefits of the state and investors
from operating in the region.
Owing to high foreign investments made by nearly
all major international oil companies (Chevron-Texaco, Exxon Mobil,
Shell, TotalFinaElf, British Gas, Statoil, Eni-Agip, Philips Petroleum)
oil exploitation in Kazakhstan went up from 530,000 barrels a day in
1992 to more than a million barrels a day in 2005. It is assumed that
the total value of investments in the sea areas of the Caspian Sea region
will increase from US$ 3.8 billion in the years 2003-2005 to US$ 16.8
billion in the years 2011-2015. Foreign investments in the oil and gas
industry in Kazakhstan are made on the basis of production output sharing,
exploration and production licenses and joint-venture agreements.
the national operator
After Kazakhstan regained independence in 1991, it
opened its market and allowed foreign companies to make investments
in its domestic oil and gas industry. A significant proportion of projects
carried out in this industrial sector are carried out as joint ventures
with KazMunaiGaz, the national oil and gas operator.
KazMunaiGaz was established in February 2002 under
a decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan through a business
combination of two state-owned enterprises: Kazakhoil and Oil and Gas
Transportation. KazMunaiGaz represents Kazakhstan's economic interests
in local and international projects and the law requires that it should
hold an interest of not less than 50% in any projects carried out with
regard to new fields in the sea areas.
KazMunaiGaz exercises control over Kazakhstan's oil
and gas management, including control over compliance with oil extraction
and trade contracts. Moreover, KazMunaiGaz is actively involved in developing
the strategy for the use of hydrocarbon reserves, pursuit of the national
policy for the oil and gas sector and holding tender proceedings related
to operating in the oil sector. In addition to that, the Ministry of
Energy and Natural Resources may use the services of KazMunaiGaz in
preparing expert's opinions on oil projects, maintenance of oil wells,
monitoring extraction, transport and processing activities in respect
of hydrocarbons, and other issues involved in operating in the oil and
The major subsidiaries of KazMunaiGaz are: KazMunaiGaz
Exploration & Production, KazTransOil, KazTransGas, Atyrau Refinery,
Kazmortransflot, Atyrau International Airport, Eurasia-Air Helicopter
Company and KazTransCom Telecommunications Company.
Oil and gas
In the years 1999 to 2004, oil production in Kazakhstan
grew at the rate of about 15% annually, i.e. it doubled in that period.
Oil production in Kazakhstan went up from 61.9 million tonnes in 2005
to 65 million tonnes in 2006, i.e. by 5%.
The government of Kazakhstan forecasts that the domestic
oil production will reach 90 million tonnes annually by 2010 (1.8 million
barrels a day) and 150 million tonnes annually (3 million barrels a
day) by 2015. The majority of oil is expected to be produced in the
Tengiz, Karachaganak, Kashagan and Kurmangazy Fields (the Kurmangazy
Field is located on the sea border between the Russian Federation and
Gas production in Kazakhstan has significantly grown
since 1999, following the enactment of a law whereby users of mineral
deposits were obliged to take gas utilization projects into account
in their business development plans. In consequence, gas production
doubled between the years 1999 and 2000. Gas production has been growing
ever since, reaching 27,015 billion cubic metres in 2006, 2.6% more
than in 2005.
Gas production in Kazakhstan is expected to reach
about 52 billion cubic metres in 2010 and about 79 billion cubic metres
Oil and gas
Given the limited absorptive capacity of the domestic
market, Kazakhstan focuses on exports. Oil exports from Kazakhstan are
growing rapidly and the existing infrastructure makes it possible to
supply oil to the world markets across the Black Sea (through the Russian
Federation), the Persian Gulf (under swap transactions with Iran) and
using oil pipelines and rail transport to northern Russia.
The combined volume of oil and gas exports from Kazakhstan
for the first 11 months of 2006 was 38.2% higher than in the year 2005.
Every effort is made to expand the Kazakh export
infrastructure (in the first instance to the east) over the next 10
years as oil production grows in Kazakhstan. In selecting its export
destinations, Kazakhstan is guided by opportunities in the area of hydrocarbon
export diversification and ensuring the most effective operation of
its pipeline system.
The development of the transport infrastructure was
an important growth factor for hydrocarbon production in Kazakhstan.
Oil and refinery products are transported in Kazakhstan using the following
three modes of transport: oil pipelines, sea and rail transport.
Kazakhstan has an oil pipeline network of more than
6,400 kilometres and 39 pumping stations. KazTransOil, a subsidiary
of KazMunaiGaz, is the monopolist in the market for pipeline transport
services and delivers about 80% of oil produced in Kazakhstan.
Now, a lot of emphasis is put on the throughput capacity
project carried out by CPC, an oil pipeline consortium. CPC's oil pipeline
accounts for the largest proportion of oil exported from Kazakhstan
and the volume of oil flowing through the pipeline is gradually growing.
The CPC oil pipeline became operational in 2001 and is an important
export route. The pipeline is 1,510 km long and links the Tengiz Oil
Field, through the Russian Federation, with the CPC sea terminal on
the Black Sea, near the Russian port of Novorossiysk.
Oil from the oil fields in the Atyrau and Mangistau
regions is pumped through the Uzen-Atyrau-Samara (UAS) pipeline to the
Russian Federation. The UAS pipeline system is about 1,500 km long and
links Uzen in the south-west of Kazakhstan, the city of Atyrau and (across
the Russian border) the Russian Transneft system in Samara. Given the
intended increase in oil production in western Kazakhstan, it is necessary
to increase the capacity of this pipeline to 20-25 million tonnes annually.
Yet another export destination is to be created on
completion of the Kuryk-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan transport system using which
oil would be transported from the Kazakh coast of the Caspian Sea to
Baku and further on through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.
The BTC pipeline of 1,767 kilometres transports crude oil from Baku
in Azerbaijan to a new sea terminal in the Turkish port of Ceyhan on
the Mediterranean coast and is the first direct pipeline between the
Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean. The BTC pipeline is intended to transport
about 50 million tonnes of oil annually (1 million barrels a day) by
As far as the development of new markets is concerned,
the completion of the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline in November 2005 was
a major development. This is the first part of the pipeline from Kazakhstan
to China. At the moment, its annual throughput capacity is 10 million
tonnes of oil, which is intended to grow to 20 million tonnes. In 2006,
2,161 million tonnes of oil were pumped through the pipeline. The second
project stage, i.e. the construction of the Kenkiyak-Kumkol-Atasu pipeline,
is going to be completed in the years 2011-2035.
A pipeline from Kazakhstan to Iran via Turkmenistan is also proposed.
Kazakhstan is also interested in transporting oil across the Black Sea
to the reversed Odessa-Brody pipeline.
With a view to enhancing its sea transport capabilities,
Kazakhstan has begun to create its own tanker fleet. Two 12,000 dwt
tankers, 'Astana' and 'Almaty', have already been launched, and the
third was delivered to the port of Aktau in September 2006. More tankers
are intended to be launched in years 2007 and 2008.
Rail transport used to be the main mode of transport
for Kazakh oil before the launch of the UAS and CPC pipelines. The railway
infrastructure remains an alternative mode of transport.
market for oil processing
The processing industry in Kazakhstan consists of
three major refineries which provide refinery products to the northern
region (Pavlodar), the western region (Atyrau) and the south region
(Shimkent) and have a combined oil processing capacity of 345,093 barrels
a day. The Pavlodar Refinery is mainly supplied with western Siberian
oil on the basis of swap transactions, the Atyrau Refinery processes
oil only from western Kazakhstan and the Shimkent Refinery processes
oil from south-western Kazakhstan at the moment. The production capacity
of Kazakh refineries is often underused as local prices for refinery
products remain low, therefore oil producers prefer to export oil to
international markets. In 2006, Kazakh refineries processed 11.7 million
tonnes of oil, up 4.6% compared with 2005.
GDP (US$ billion)
Real GDP (%, y/y)
GDP per capita, PPP (US$)
GDP per capita (US$)
Annual average inflation rate (%)
US$/KZT average exchange rate
Source: National Statistical
Agency, National Bank of Kazakhstan, Bloomberg, S&P, IMF World Economic
Kazakhstan is one of the few former Soviet Union
republics which have a record of rapid economic growth in a stable political
environment. Solid export growth rate on high oil prices and growing
output have enabled Kazakhstan to achieve a real GDP growth rate of
nearly 10% in recent years, which is more than the 6.8% GDP growth rate
in the Russian Federation over the same period and equals China's growth
rate. The very high GDP growth rate has been attributable to a large
extent to growing prices of natural resources in recent years.
The dependence of Kazakhstan's economy on oil is its major structural
weakness. Strong exports result in the appreciation of Kazakhstan's
tenge against the US dollar. The challenge is similar to the one faced
by the Russian Federation, i.e. how to diversify Kazakhstan's economy
by developing non-primary sectors.
Kazakhstan's banking system is also rapidly growing,
thanks to well-thought out reforms and effective regulation. However,
it is still lagging behind the banking systems of the West, both in
terms of its size and involvement in the real economy.
A pension system reform was carried out in 1998 and
now there are 18 pension funds in Kazakhstan which mainly invest in
debt instruments, including corporate and government bonds (including
Kazakhstan government's Eurobonds).
Kazakhstan was the first CIS country to obtain an
investment class rating from all the three major rating agencies in
the world: Moody's Investors Service, Standard&Poors and Fitch.
In June 2006, Moody's upgraded the rating of Kazakhstan government's
long-term Eurobonds from Baa3 to Baa2.
The government's fiscal policy act adopted in September
2006 envisaged that the real GDP growth rate would be 8.8% p.a. in the
years 2007 to 2009, which would make it possible for the GDP for the
year 2008 to be twice as high as in the year 2000. The act emphasises
the fact that Kazakhstan's GDP per capita is to rise to USD 6,543 in
2009, i.e. 1.8 times compared with 2005.
The act envisages a rapid growth in services (of
10.7% annually). Production of goods is to grow by 6.7% a year on the
average. It is assumed that industrial production will be growing at
the average annual rate of 6.1% in the years 2007 to 2009, with the
annual growth rate for the processing industry of 6.7%. The growth in
services will be mainly attributable to trade, transport, telecommunications
and various other services provided to companies.
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