By Dmitry Solovyov
ALMATY Jan 30 Kazakhstan, seeking a greater
role in large oil projects, has bought a 24.5-percent stake held
by ConocoPhillips in the promising offshore oil block
Nursultan in the Caspian, as the U.S. firm sheds overseas
Kazakh state oil company KazMunaiGas (KMG) will now
own a 75.5-percent stake in the exploration and development
project, and Abu Dhabi state investment company Mubadala
the remaining 24.5 percent, KMG said in a statement.
The block, located in western Kazakhstan and covering an
area of about 8,100 square km, contains an estimated 270 million
tonnes of recoverable oil reserves and is expected to start
commercial oil output in 2016.
The deep-water field, which is also widely known as Block N,
is currently being explored under a subsoil use contract signed
by KMG, ConocoPhillips and Mubadala in 2009.
"KMG's increased participation in the N project demonstrates
systematic efforts taken by the national company to strengthen
its role in exploration projects in Kazakhstan's sector of the
Caspian Sea," the company said in a statement.
Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest economy and
second-largest oil producer after Russia, aspires to boost oil
output to 130 million tonnes by the end of this decade. It plans
to produce 82 million tonnes this year compared to 79.2 million
tonnes in 2012.
ConocoPhillips, which has been shedding its foreign assets
to cut debt and increase investment in lower-cost domestic shale
oil and gas, has also announced plans to sell its more valuable
asset -- an 8.4 percent stake in the mammoth Kashagan offshore
field in the Caspian.
Kashagan, the biggest oilfield discovery in over four
decades which is expected to start production in the middle of
this year, is instrumental in achieving Kazakhstan's ambitious
goal of boosting oil output by 60 percent by 2020.
ConocoPhillips has said it intends to sell its Kashagan
stake to ONGC Videsh, the investment arm of India's Oil and
Natural Gas Corp, for about $5 billion.
Kazakhstan, which holds 3 percent of global recoverable oil
reserves, has expressed interest in buying the stake and has the
right of first refusal on it.
Kashagan holds an estimated 30 billion barrels of
oil-in-place, of which 8-12 billion are potentially recoverable.