Kazakhstan Fines Tengizchevroil Consortium For Pollution

Kazakhstan's Ministry of Environmental Protection has fined the ChevronTexaco-led Tengizchevroil consortium 152 million tenge ($1=KZT146.66) for exceeding pollution levels.

Tengizchevroil, or TCO, exceeded the permitted limit for pollutant emissions into the water and atmosphere, said Environmental Protection Minister Aigul Samakova.

Last December, the ministry fined TCO KZT11 billion for environmental damage caused by sulfur pollution. However, one month later, a Kazakh court ruled that TCO could only be fined 10 times less the original amount, or KZT1 billion.

"We intend to take strict measures," Samakova said. "If companies polluting the environment don't undertake proper measures to prevent ecological damage, they have to be closed or completely modernized."

TCO develops the Tengiz oil field in the Caspian Sea and is a joint venture between ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil Corp., OAO Lukoil Holdings and Kazmunaigaz .

Separately, Samakova said the ministry has ordered the Kazakh-Chinese joint venture CNPC-Aktobemunaigaz to suspend operations on five production wells on the Zhanazhol oil field in western Kazakhstan until the company buries waste to ecological standards. CNPC-Aktobemunaigaz is majority owned by China National Petroleum Corp. and this year plans to boost oil production to 104,000 barrels a day.

Officials from both companies were unavailable for comment.