Oil-rich Kazakhstan Gets Backing For More Regional Cooperation

ADB VP Reaffirms Support to Kazakhstan, Regional Cooperation

June 16 (UPI) — The Asian Development Bank said it was keen on backing efforts in oil-rich Kazakhstan to improve employment prospects and boost cross-border trade.

ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang is on a four-day visit to Kazakhstan to take part in economic forums under the umbrella of a broader development agenda, the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation strategy.

“ADB will continue to support the government of Kazakhstan’s development agenda and is exploring new ways of engaging with the country, including public-private partnerships, blended finance, and other innovative financing approaches,” Zhang said in a statement.

Oil is Kazakhstan’s primary export commodity and the country is party to a multilateral effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance an oversupplied market with managed production declines.

In May, the International Monetary Fund said the Kazakh economy should grow by 2.5 percent this year, after a slowdown in 2016. Growth comes from higher oil production and fiscal stimulus, though the nation’s economy is exposed to oil market declines. The rate of unemployment of 5 percent hasn’t changed since 2014.

The Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan is one of the country’s brighter prospects, though development has been impeded by a series of issues with infrastructure in a complex reservoir environment. The North Caspian Operating Co., a consortium managing the field, said exports would rely on a mix of existing pipelines and rail. A possible new route for pipelines from the southwest could link Kashagan up to more cross-border and international markets.

“All potential export options are currently being reviewed,” the consortium said in a profile for the field.

A country profile from the U.S. Energy Information Administration said export capacity was a limiting factor for production growth from Kazakhstan.

The ADB has been steering more than $10 billion through the CAREC program in part to support cross-border expansion for participating countries.