According to Bolat Akchulakov, Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister, the Kashagan oilfield in Kazakhstan’s portion of the Caspian Sea will resume full production by the end of the month.
The Kashagan oilfield is estimated to have some 13 billion barrels of crude oil in recoverable reserves, and it is regarded as the biggest discovery in recent decades. Harsh environmental conditions, such as winter sea ice, have made it a challenging prospect to develop, however. The field is owned by a consortium that includes international oil companies like ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies, the makers of the Mobil and Total lubricant ranges.
At the sidelines of an energy forum, Akchulakov told Reuters that oil production would return to 400,000 bpd by the end of October, adding:
“Production at Kashagan has been curtailed due to some ‘nuances’ with the equipment. We are conducting repair work.”
The detection of a gas leak in August forced the oilfield to shut down, with production only then being partially restored until repairs and verification were completed. Issues with two of the three terminals of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium have also hindered Kazakhstan’s oil exports, but Akchulakov said he expects all of them to be operating by the end of this month. He also pointed out that Kazakhstan exports around 11 million tonnes of crude oil to China each year.
The resumption of full production at a major oilfield like Kashagan should help meet the world’s demand for crude oil. The operators are also planning upgrades that would increase the field’s production to around 500,000 bpd.