Today Kazakhstan is among the top 15 countries in the world when it comes to essential oil reserves, having 3% of the world's total oil reserves. 62% of the country is occupied by oil and gas areas, and there are 172 oil fields, of which more than 80 are under development. More than 90% of oil reserves are concentrated in the 15 largest oil fields - Tengiz, Kashagan, Karachaganak, Uzen, Zhetybai, Zhanazhol, Kalamkas, Kenkiyak, Karazhanbas, Kumkol, North Buzachi, Alibekmola, Central and Eastern Prorva, Kenbai, Korolevskoye. Oil fields can be found in six of the fourteen provinces of Kazakhstan. They are the Aktobe, Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Kyzylorda and Mangystau provinces. About 70% of the hydrocarbon reserves are concentrated in western Kazakhstan.
The Atyrau province holds claim to the most significant amount of oil fields, in which more than 75 fields have commercial reserves of 930 million tonnes. The largest field in the province is Tengiz (with 781.1 million tonnes of initial recoverable reserves). The remaining fields in the area have around 150 million tonnes of initial recoverable reserves. More than half of those are concentrated in two fields: Korolevskoye (55.1 million tonnes) and Kenbai (30.9 million tonnes).
Mangystau province's territory has been benefited by the discovery of more than 70 fields with commercial recoverable reserves of 725 million tonnes, and 5.6 million tonnes of condensate.
Less than half of the fields are in operation. Most of those fields are mature ones, and are difficult to recover. The largest oil fields are Uzen, Zhetybai, Kalamkas, and Karazhanbas. The largest oil field in the West Kazakhstan Province is Karachaganak with recoverable reserves of liquid hydrocarbon feedstock of around 320 million tonnes and over 450 billion cubic meters of natural gas. In September 2005 the discovery of hydrocarbons was announced in the Fedorovsky block near Karachaganak block; oil and gas condensate reserves are estimated to amount to 200 million tonnes.
Another promising region in terms of its oil and gas potential is the Aktobe province. Around 25 fields have been discovered there. The most important geological discoveries in this region are the Zhanazhol group of fields with recoverable oil and condensate reserves amounting to about 170 million tonnes. In 2005, it was announced that a new field Umit was discovered in the central block of the eastern Caspian depression.
The most critical for the oil industry in the Kyzylorda and Karaganda provinces is the Kumkol group of fields which is the fifth largest oil and gas area in Kazakhstan. While operating in the area in the summer of 2005 PetroKazakhstan announced the discovery of commercial oil reserves in the licensed Kolzhan area adjacent to the northern boundary of the Kyzylkiya field.
Overall, according to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Oil and Gas, proven hydrocarbon reserves, both onshore and offshore, are estimated to amount to 4.8 billion tonnes, or more than 35 billion barrels, while as of 2001 the explored in-place reserves of oil were only 2.9 billion tonnes. Furthermore, according to some experts, there are probably more reserves of oil in fields located in the Kazakh section of the Caspian Sea, which may be over 17 billion tonnes or 124.3 billion barrels. Given the oil and gas reserves as well as the ever-increasing production volumes, in the foreseeable future, Kazakhstan is much likely to remain among top oil producers.
According to the Ministry of Oil and Gas, oil production in 2011 amounted to 80.1 million tonnes. Let us put this in perspective, in 1998, oil production was fixed at 25.93 million tonnes. With 39.5 billion cubic meters produced in 2011 Kazakhstan remains a top natural gas producer among the CIS countries.
2,146.9 thousand tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas was produced last year by oil and gas processing companies in Kazakhstan. Domestic consumption of gas was 10.179 billion cubic meters.
Refinery throughput at domestic refineries amounted to 13.7 million tonnes, of which gasoline was 2.76 million tonnes; diesel fuel, 4.06 million tonnes; oil, 3.66 million tonnes; jet kerosene, 387.1 thousand tonnes. This being said, according to the KazMunaiGas Refining and Marketing in 2011, the volume of oil refining was 4.47 million tonnes at the Atyrau Refinery, 2.3 million tonnes at the PKOP plant (Shymkent refinery), and to 4.6 million tonnes at the Pavlodar refinery.
Kazakhstan exports some crude through pipeline. In 2011, oil exports amounted to 69.61 million tonnes including through the following oil pipelines: Atyrau-Samara, 15.43 million tonnes; CPC, 28.44 million tonnes; Atasu-Alashankou, 10.89 million tonnes. In money terms, oil exports were equal to US$ 55.2 billion, accounting for 62.5% of the total exports of Kazakhstan. The volume of gas exports from Kazakhstan in 2011 amounted to 8.15 billion cubic meters. The volume of international gas transit across Kazakhstan for the same period amounted to 96.67 billion cubic meters, of which: Russia, 62 billion cubic meters; Turkmenistan, 26.5 billion cubic meters; Uzbekistan, 8.2 billion cubic meters.
In future, the volume of oil and gas in Kazakhstan is expected to grow significantly. The growth of oil and gas production in Kazakh can be linked to the following three factors. First, it is due to a significant influx of investment. Second, due to favourable world market conditions for crude production. Finally, a large-scale study of the subsoil areas in the Caspian and Aral Seas will contribute to further addition of resources.
According to Oil and Gas Information and Analysis Centre, a subsidiary of Contract Agency, the total number of people involved in the oil and gas industry is 71,336, including 2,431 expats.
Materials used from the following sources of information:
Ministry of Oil and Gas, http://mgm.gov.kz/
Annual report from KazMunaiGas Refining and Marketing, http://www.thkmg.kz/
Research report by RFCA Ratings Agenc, http://rfcaratings.kz/
Information and analysis magazine KazEnergy, issue No. 3 (53), June 2012