Kazakhstan eyes Chinese market for soaring gas output

Oct 05, 2005 02:00 AM

Kazakhstan, a booming oil economy, is forecasting a sharp rise in natural gas output and eyeing the market of its giant neighbour China for future exports of the ''blue fuel'', a top Kazakh energy official said.
The sprawling Central Asian nation produced 20.5 bn cm of natural gas last year, 6.5 bn cm more than in 2003. Output is set to soar to more than 50 bn cm by 2015, Uzakbai Karabalin, head of Kazakh state oil and gas firm KazMunaiGaz, told an energy conference.

Karabalin said fast-growing output would make it possible to export natural gas for a trans-China pipeline.
''The Chinese side has been offered several routes of Kazakh natural gas shipments for the East-West pipeline (within China),'' Karabalin said. Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a feasibility study project in July after reaching understanding on future investment in a gas pipeline that would run from Kazakhstan to energy-hungry China.

Kazakhstan, which expects to almost triple its oil output to 3.5 mm bpd by 2015, is now close to completing the construction of a 962-km (600-mile) oil pipeline that will ship crude to China's north-western Xinjiang province.
Karabalin reiterated plans to complete the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline in December this year, but said that large-scale exports should not be expected before May 2006 after all technical tests had been done and the pipeline filled with oil.

The new pipeline route, with an initial capacity of 10 mm tpy (210,000 bpd) which will eventually double to 20 mm tons, is a boon for land-locked Kazakhstan which may soon lack oil export outlets because output is rising fast. Northern neighbour Russia may also benefit.
''This oil pipeline may ship not only Kazakh oil, but also crude from Siberian fields, as well as future output from the Caspian Sea shelf,'' Karabalin said. Kazakhstan pins hopes of future prosperity mainly on its giant oil finds in the Caspian region which are being developed by Western and Russian energy majors.

Source: news.webindia123.com
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