* Oil output at Kashagan halted in October due to gas leak
* CPC pipeline capacity to be expanded by 50 pct next year
MOSCOW, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The Caspian pipeline CPC expects to receive oil from the huge Kashagan oilfield, now idle, in May or June and to boost the conduit’s capacity by 50 percent next year, sources at the consortium said on Monday.
Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oilfield, the world’s biggest crude discovery in half a century, has been out of operation since October due to a gas leak.
“We will be ready to take all the Kashagan oil when the output resumes in May-June, as expected,” a source said.
A second source said the annual capacity of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) would increase next year to 48 million tonnes (almost 1 million barrels per day) from 32 million now.
CPC is an important route for the oil from Kashagan, an offshore oil project in the Caspian Sea. The difficulties in pumping oil from Kashagan create a logistical nightmare for the project, developed by international majors.
Repeated delays have infuriated the Kazakh government, which has threatened to fine the NCOC consortium operating the project.
Some industry watchers believe Kashagan can only be restarted close to 2015, though French oil company Total , one of the partners in the project, has previously said the oilfield could still restart this winter.
NCOC includes Kazakh state oil firm KazMunaiGas, Italy’s Eni through its Agip unit, U.S.-based Exxon Mobil , Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell and Total of France. Each owns 16.81 percent.
Japanese firm Inpex owns 7.56 percent. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) acquired an 8.33 percent stake this year as U.S.-based ConocoPhillips exited.
The CPC pipeline expansion has been postponed for years and the delays have already made Russia a surprise favourite to ship the first oil from Kashagan to world markets, adding to headaches for the world’s most expensive oil development.
CPC mainly ships oil from Kazakhstan’s large Tengiz and Karachaganak fields to an export terminal near the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.
The conduit was launched more than 10 years ago and gave the Caspian Sea region a viable alternative to Russian state pipelines.
CPC had expected to start shipping oil from the Kashagan field from October, but the plan had to be put on hold soon after its launch.
Central Asia’s largest economy and the second-largest ex-Soviet oil producer after Russia, Kazakhstan has forecast the Kashagan field will produce 1 million barrels per day from 2020 and eventually reach 1.5 million bpd.