Kazakhstan's Caspian Sea oilfield of Kashagan contains recoverable reserves of at least seven to nine billion barrels of oil, the Kazakh National Petroleum Company and consortium Agip KCO announced on Saturday.
The number could be revised upwards on the basis of further research, the head of Kazakhstan's Kazmunaigas Company, Lyazzat Kiinov, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. Meanwhile, Pietro Cavanna, deputy head of the Management Committee of Agip KCO, said that the total geological reserves in the massive oilfield, located in Kazakhstan's sector of the inland sea, were put at 38 billion barrels.
Kazakh officials had previously said that the oilfield could hold some fifty billion barrels of crude with anything from 10 billion to 25 billion barrels of this recoverable. The field has been dubbed one of the largest oil discoveries to be made in the last three decades while Kazakh officials have said they hope it will catapult their country into the ranks of the world's top oil producers.
Agip KCO is expected to begin test production of oil from Kashagan in 2005 and commercial production in 2006, Kiinov was quoted by Interfax as saying. Some seven billion dollars are expected to be invested in the exploitation of Kashagan from 2003 to 2006, and the consortium has already invested $1.2 billion in developing the field, he added.
The former ex-Soviet Central Asian republic could receive from $150 million to $200 million every year from 2006 depending on the amount of oil produced, AFP quoted Kiinov as saying. Kazakhstan is already home to the massive onshore Tengiz oilfield, which contains from six to nine billion barrels of oil, one of the 10 largest oilfields in the world.
According to an agreement between Kazakhstan and Agip KCO, shareholders were due to reveal the commercial reserves of Kashagan. Agip KCO brings together Italian group Eni, anglo-Dutch group Shell, U.S. super-major Exxonmobil, British group BG, Phillips Petroleum of the United States, Japanese firm Inpex and Totalfinaelf of France.
According to a source in the Russian Defence Ministry, Russia started deploying elite commando units in eastern Libya. Russian GRU officers, mercenaries and advisors have arrived in Libya