Kazakhstan Planning New Pipeline Routes
Last week's announcement confirming the largest find in the Caspian Sea in the past 30 years has officials in Kazakhstan contemplating new pipeline routes to transport the crude into Europe, China and India. The discovery of between 7 billion and 9 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil in the giant Kashagan offshore field will require major new infrastructure as Kazakhstan works to become one of the world's largest energy exporters by the end of this decade, Kazakh officials said. A recently completed pipeline running to Russia's Black Sea is sufficient for Kazakhstan's existing oil export needs, but the country will need additional routes after the newly discovered oilfield begins production by the end of 2005, said Kazakhstan Minister of Energy Vladimir Shkolnik.
"If our forecasts come true, after that time we will definitely need additional export routes and we are studying a number of routes," Shkolnik said. "We look with great interest and China and India; those are the very fast-developing economies in our vicinity," he said.
With the Kashagan oilfield discovery, Kazakhstan plans to triple its oil output in 15 years from its current level of 900,000 barrels per day. An international consortium led by Agip that include ExxonMobil, and Phillips Petroleum has committed to invest $7 billion in the oilfield in the next few years, including $800 million this year. Other members of the consortium include TotalFinaElf, Shell and Inpex.