Kazakhstan: 'No plans to use ESPO pipeline'

Kazakhstan's oil companies have yet to show any interest in providing crude oil for transport along Russia's Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline, according to senior Kazkah officials.

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 -- Kazakhstan's oil companies have yet to show any interest in providing crude oil for transport along Russia's Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, according to senior Kazkah officials.

"This is a hypothetical possibility," said Kazakhstan's energy and mineral resources minister Sauat Mynbaev, who explained: "We have not discussed actual oil volumes" for transport.

That view was echoed by KazTransOil's general director, Nurtas Shamnov: "Today Kazakh oil producers do not have such interest since [the] ESPO is still not an export point." Shamnov said that could change if and when Russia launches the second stage of the line.

The remarks by the Kazakh officials refuted claims by Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko who earlier this month said that Kazakhstan is studying the possibility of transporting its oil through ESPO.

"Our Kazakh partners are looking at the project with great interest and enthusiasm. We are happy about that," Shmatko said at the launch of a section of the pipeline between Talakan and Taishet (OGJ Online, Oct. 13, 2008).

"Their participation in the launching of the pipeline from Talakan to Taishet indicates that they are exploring the possibility of using Russia's new transportation capabilities for the transfer of Kazakh oil," Shmatko said.

In fact, international oil companies producing Kazakh crude have announced that shipments will soon begin along the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline (OGJ Online, Oct. 10, 2008).

The first cargo of 12,000 tonnes of crude from Kazakhstan's Tengiz field arrived in Baku earlier this week, according to industry sources. Officials said the shipment of Kazakh crude marks the launch of a long-considered plan.

"There has been a plan for a long time for a long-term arrangement to put Kazakh oil into BTC. This is the start of that process," said a spokesman for BP, which operates the BTC line.

However, no details have been released officially of the volume of Tengiz crude expected to flow through the BTC line or the agreed pipeline tariff.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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