Kazakh Government Sees New Tender for Oil Block N

ALMATY Feb.16, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Kazakhstan's top energy official said Friday that the Central Asian state will hold another tender for a Caspian oil development that ConocoPhillips (COP) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) bid for as its reserves are likely to be revised upwards, the ministry said.

"There's an opinion that the earlier estimated reserves for this development could be significantly higher than we had earlier thought," Izmukhambetov said, according to the ministry. "And we'd like to confirm it so as not to make mistakes. Therefore we're now carrying out additional research."

In November, Izmukhambetov said Shell was likely to win the tender for the developed, known as Project N. His position now is that the tender for the Caspian oil development won't be held in near future, according to the ministry.

Izmukhambetov said that "during the talks both companies considerably improved their bids" but the contract wasn't awarded to any of them.

Izmukhambetov said both Shell and ConoccoPhillips, as well as other oil companies, still seem to be interested in participating in a new tender for the block.

Spokesmen for ConocoPhillips and Shell weren't immediately available to comment on the minister's statement.

According to the state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas, Project N holds about 637 million metric tons of oil equivalent. The development is located in the southern part of Kazakhstan's section of the Caspian sea, about 15 kilometers from shore.

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