Kazakhstan's three largest oil fields, the main source of CPC crude exports, were continuing to produce amid political upheaval in the Central Asian country, operators said Jan. 6, with Shell adding it was "keeping the situation under constant review."
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In an emailed statement, the Chevron-led consortium that operates the Tengiz field, Tengizchevroil (TCO), said a protest by contract workers at the remote site in western Kazakhstan continued, but "TCO production operations continue."
"A number of contractor employees are gathered at the Tengiz field in support of protests taking place across Kazakhstan. TCO and Business Partner Industrial Relations teams continue to work together to resolve this situation as soon as possible. TCO is focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of its workforce at Tengiz and maintaining safe operations," TCO said.
Separately, Shell said production continued at the two giant fields in which it holds stakes, Kashagan and Karachaganak, while the country's main crude export pipeline to world markets, CPC, was "fully functional."
"We are following developments in Kazakhstan closely. We are focusing on keeping our people and operations safe, working closely with our venture partners. As of Thursday 1000 GMT, production continues at [Kashagan operator] NCOC and [Karachaganak operator] KPO, and CPC is fully functional," Shell told S&P Global Platts.
"We are keeping the situation under constant review," Shell added.
Kazakhstan, the second largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union, with around 1.6 million b/d of production recently, has been rocked by unrest in recent days, sparked initially by a liberalization of road fuel prices. On Jan. 5 President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pledged to reimpose price controls, going on to remove former president Nursultan Nazarbayev from his post of national security council chair, and to request security assistance from a group of ex-Soviet countries led by Russia, the country's northern neighbor.
Kazakhstan is a member of the OPEC+ group of countries that collaborated on restraining production during the pandemic. CPC crude loadings, largely derived from the three biggest Kazakh fields, amounted to 1.38 million b/d in November, with the country one of the few that is viewed as having production growth potential among the OPEC+ group.
CPC is a light, relatively sweet crude purchased around the world and has traded at a modest discount to Dated Brent in recent months.
Unlike in Russia, international oil and gas companies have underpinned Kazakhstan's rise as a producer, with Chevron currently leading a $45 billion expansion project at Tengiz. Other major stakeholders in Kazakhstan's top fields include Italy's Eni, ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies, as well as Russia's Lukoil and China's CNPC.
Underlining the febrile situation, especially for smaller companies, London-listed independent Caspian Sunrise said Jan. 6 it was suspending drilling and production operations temporarily in light of "ongoing political uncertainty," and would provide updates "as the position becomes clearer."