Zaisan Joint Venture Makes Discovery in Eastern Kazakhstan

The joint venture between Kazakhstan and Kuwait, Zaisan, has made a discovery in the Zaisan depression south of the Sarybulak structure in eastern Kazakhstan. The joint venture discovered methane, after drilling 2,022 meters of an exploration well started in April last year. The oil is viscous and heavy with a lot of impurities, indicating that it could be expensive to bring the find into commercial production.

Zaisan has hired a Romanian company, Foradex S.A., to drill another three wells in the hope of finding better-quality oil. The region's industry department thinks the Sarybulak structure could contain tens of millions of tons of oil. But its gas reserves could be more significant at up to 50 billion cubic meters.

The Bashneft oil company was the first to drill for oil at in the area back in 1984-1989. It drilled a parametric well to 4,859 meters and found oil at 3,000 meters. The plan was to drill a second well, but this was shelved due to financial constraints.

The work resumed only in 1999, after Kuat, a local holding company that is licensed to conduct exploration in the Tarbagatai and Zaisan districts of East Kazakhstan, and Kuwait's Gulf Star Investment Holdings, started to work together. The Zaisan joint venture was licensed to operate at the Zaisan prospect in June 1996.

Gulf Star Investment Holdings owns 99.9% of the Zaisan joint venture. It also owns a 99.9% interest in two prospects in Kazakhstan's Pavlodar region via two locally-registered firms, Burgan and Nurbai.