ASTANA, March 17 (Reuters) - Kazakh state oil and gas firm KazMunayGaz will either maintain or increase its oil output this year compared with last year's 22.7 million tons, chief executive Sauat Mynbayev said on Thursday.
Mynbayev declined to comment on whether Kazakhstan would take part in a meeting of oil exporting countries in Qatar on April 17, where leading producers plan to discuss freezing output levels at the ones reached in January.
Kazakhstan indicated this month it had no plans to freeze output and would instead ramp up production to its original target of 77 million tons per year if the oil price stayed above $40 a barrel. That is still lower than last year's output of 79.5 million tons.
KazMunayGaz's production includes the output of its major subsidiary, KMG EP, as well as its share in the output of Tengiz and Karachaganak, two large fields operated by Western companies.
Kazakhstan also plans in October to re-launch production at its giant offshore Kashagan field which was halted shortly after the initial launch in 2013 due to gas-leaking pipes. But the field is unlikely to contribute much to the country's output this year, Mynbayev said.
(Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Mark Potter)
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