Kazakhstan offers India opportunity to explore Caspian Abai oil block

April 28. ANI. Astana

Kazakhstan offers India opportunity to explore Caspian Abai oil blockKazakhstan has offered India an opportunity to explore Caspian Abai oil block.

The offer was made at the 11th Kazakhstan-India Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) meeting that took place on April 24 and 25 in Kazakh capital Astana.

The Kazakh delegation was led by the country’s Vice-Minister of Oil and Gas, Mr. Magzum Mirzagaliev, while the Indian side was led by Petroleum Secretary Saurabh Chandra.

Both sides inked a protocol during the of IGC meeting under which they agreed to consider broadening bilateral cooperation in the production and development of oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan.

The Indian side expressed its readiness to participate in projects, both as a sole developer and as a consortium partner. Both sides agreed to make every effort to consider Kazakhstan’s offer to explore the Caspian Abai oil block.

The two sides also agreed to consider possibilities of expanding cooperation in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Kazakhstan.

Indian experts have also proposed to consider the possibility of cooperation in the field of renewable energy, as well as atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

Both countries said they were interested in increasing tourism cooperation and further development of cooperation in science and technology.

The Caspian Abai is an offshore oil block in Kazakhstan’s section of the Caspian Sea. The oil field’s reserves are estimated to be 387 million tons (2.8 billion barrels) of oil equivalent. The offshore oil field is located in the northern part of the Caspian Sea 65 kilometers from the shore at the depth of 8-10 meters.

“Hydrocarbons is one of the key areas of our cooperation. Kazakhstan has oil and gas, while India has the market. Our companies have ample experience in production and exploration in this sector. ONGC Videsh company owns a 25 per cent share in Satpayev oil block. Exploration of the block will be made. We plan to finish it by March of 2015. Kazakhstan has offered us Abai oil block and our company will study all the available information concerning the block and notify the government of Kazakhstan of its decision,” Chandra said.

The Satpayev oil block is an offshore field in the Northern Caspian Sea. Its potential reserves are estimated at 1.8 bilion barrels. First oil from the field in expected in 2020.

However, one of the biggest handicaps to expanding Kazakh-India bilateral trade is the lack of direct connectivity.

In this regard, the construction of new routes from North to South will play an important role in trade development and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and India. This will reduce by half and even more the trucking distance and reduce transportation costs.

Kazakhstan has already commissioned its portion of the railway route Beineu -Etrek – Gyzylgaya – Gorgan (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran) as part of the Inernational North-South Transportation Corridor.

In May last year, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Turkmenistan counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov opened the Bolashak (Kazakhstan) – Serkhetyaka (Turkmenistan) railroad crossing, which is set to become one of the key links in the growing network of railways and road connections restoring the ancient Silk Road in the modern conditions.

Kazakhstan hopes that Iran and Turkmen partners will commision their respective parts of the route in 2014 to ensure quicker access to the Gulf ports of Iran.

The Kazakh Government alsio sees tourism as another area with immense possibilities for cooperation with India.

Currently, there are daily flights between Almaty and New Delhi. Several more proposals connecting the two countries are pending.

Kazakhstan is of the view that India has a rich and enterprising middle class estimated in the range of 50 to 300 million people, and this section of society is keen to travel to other countries and experience different cultures and cuisines.

Kazakhstan presents an excellent location in India’s neighborhood in this regard. It has unique steppes, lakes and hills, also offers snow clad mountains and ski slopes.

The challenge of course is to attract as many visitors to EXPO-2017, and by definition, Kazakhstan cannot exclude potential Indian participants and tourists from the equation.