ASTANA, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Commercial oil production at the giant Kashagan field in Kazakhstan will begin in November, the chief executive of state oil firm KazMunayGaz said on Friday. Previously the start of commercial level production had been expected in October.
Oil will now start flowing from the offshore field, one of the world's biggest discoveries of the past decades, on Sept. 24, Sauat Mynbayev told a government meeting, and would reach commercial level volumes in early to mid-November.
KazMunayGaz signed a contract last month with trader Vitol to arrange a prepayment for its share in the Kashagan oil worth $1 billion.
Kashagan's output will be a modest 50,000 to 1 million tonnes this year, 3 million to 5 million tonnes next year and then 7 million tonnes in 2018, Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said in May.
In emailed comments sent to Reuters later on Friday, the ministry said the commercial launch might still occur in October.
"Provided Kashagan's successful launch in October, the consortium plans to produce some 0.5 million tonnes of oil by the end of the current year," it said.
The first production phase is designed to produce as much as 20 million tonnes at its peak, and possibly rising to as much as 50 million tonnes if new investment is approved.
Kazakhstan holds 16.88 percent in Kashagan via KMG Kashagan (KMG), which is a subsidiary of KazMunayGaz.
The Kashagan consortium also includes Eni, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, China's CNPC and Japan's Inpex.
(Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva in Astana and Alla Afanasyeva in Moscow; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by David Clarke, Greg Mahlich)
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