Agip to Begin Exploration of Second Block in the Caspian Sea

An Agip-led consortium led, which is carrying out exploration on Kazakhstan's Kashagan offshore oilfield, said it would begin exploratory drilling of another offshore block. The Agip consortium is studying Kazakhstan's Caspian Sea shelf. Kashagan is Kazakhstan's first offshore project. "Talking about exploration of the remaining blocks of the production-sharing contract, we will start in the middle of April to drill a new the Kalamkas structure," Agip vice-president Pietro Cavanna said in a statement. "We have even had assurances from the prime minister that we will get all the support which is required to implement this complex and huge project from himself and from the authorities," he said after meeting Kazakh Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov.

Tasmagambetov has said previously that the Agip-led consortium plans to produce the first Kazakh offshore oil from the giant Kashagan field, believed to be the largest oil find since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, by 2005-2006.

Kazakhstan's oil reserves are currently estimated at 10 billion barrels and are expected rise to 30-35 billion including finds on the shelf, although Kazakh officials have said Kashagan alone might contain up to 50 billion barrels.