Kazakhstan Holds Talks on Caspian Oil Blocks Sales

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (Dow Jones), Sept. 24, 2009

Kazakhstan is currently holdings talks with unnamed potential strategic investors over development of 4 to 5 offshore oil blocks in the Caspian Sea, a senior official at Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund said Thursday.

"We are holding talks with potential strategic investors," Bolat Akchulakov, managing director for state-owned energy assets at Samruk-Kazyna, told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of an energy conference in the Kazakh capital Astana. "The talks are being held over 4 to 5 (oil) blocks."

Samruk-Kazyna manages Kazakhstan's state-owned companies, including oil and gas company KazMunaiGas.

"The main vector of future growth is linked to development of offshore blocks in the Caspian Sea," Akchulakov said. "KazMunaiGas as the national (oil and gas) operator has to have at least 50% of such (future) assets."

He added that the exception was the Kashagan oil field, the agreement to develop which was signed in 1997.

Akchulakov said that future agreements over offshore oil blocks will be for exploration contracts and that reserves of such blocks will only be known after the exploration works are complete.  

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