ALMATY/MOSCOW, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Oil is unlikely to flow from Kazakhstan's Kashagan oilfield until spring as the world's biggest crude discovery in half a century faces challenges including leaky pipes, industry sources said on Monday.
On Sunday, Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of France's Total, said the field would not be able to restart before the end of 2013.
The Central Asian nation of 17 million has pinned its hopes for energy revenues on Kashagan. Repeated delays have infuriated the government, which has threatened to fine the multinational consortium operating the project.
Production at the field, which has a projected life of 50-60 years, started on Sept. 11, but came to a halt two weeks later when a gas leak was found. Another leak was discovered in October after a brief restart.
"Kashagan oil exports will be restarted in March, in a best-case scenario," one industry source said.
The North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), which operates the field, includes Kazakh state oil firm KazMunaiGas, Italy's Eni, U.S. Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. Each owns 16.81 percent.
Japan's Inpex owns 7.56 percent. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) acquired an 8.33 percent stake this year.
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