KazMunaiGas and Rosneft are making plans to begin a joint exploration program on the Kurmangazy field in the Caspian Sea. Exploration drilling is slated to being in June of 2003. Russia and Kazakhstan recently agreed to divide their sectors of the landlocked Caspian Sea and jointly work on disputed oilfields, including Kurmangazy in the Kazakh sector and two fields in the Russian sector. The Kurmangazy Field is estimated to contain almost as much oil as the Kashagan Field nearby. Agip is the operator of the Kashagan Field and its latest estimates on reserves show that the field has approximately 7 to 9 million barrels of proven reserves and could hold as much as 38 million barrels.
Due to a lack of modern drilling equipment in the Caspian Sea, Rosneft has said it would invest $35 million to convert its crane ship, Ispolin, into an oil drilling platform by May 2003.
Kazakhstan plans to keep 25 percent in Kurmangazy and offer 25 percent to a foreign partner to help explore it. Industry sources say the Kazakh government is in partnership talks with most major Western oil companies.