A seismic survey of Kazakhstan’s portion of the Caspian continental shelf has discovered immense oil and gas deposits, representatives of the Caspian Sea Consortium which carried out the survey announced yesterday. According to Western and Kazakh representatives, the estimated reserves are in the range of 4 billion to 10 billion tons of oil and 2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Drilling by the consortium is expected to begin in 1997, with commercial production expected by 2003. Kazakhstan estimates that $20 billion in investments will be needed to develop the fields.
Formed in 1993, the consortium consists of the state company KazakhstanCaspiShelf as operator and British Petroleum, British Gas, Mobil, Shell, Norway’s Statoil, Total of France, and Italy’s Agip. The consortium members are currently negotiating production-sharing agreements. The companies reportedly have a combined stake of 6,000 square kilometers of offshore territory out of the 100,00 square kilometers surveyed, leaving ample space for additional investors in the fields’ development. (Reuter, June 26)
Russia claims that the Caspian is indivisible, and has challenged Kazakhstan’s right to a sector of its own in the that sea. Moscow contests the legal validity of mineral deals between Caspian and foreign countries. But Russia has not attempted to prevent the activities of international oil companies. Instead, it will probably seek a stake for Russian companies in this project and, more importantly, control over the oil’s transportation to international markets.
Uzbek President in the USA.