* Kazakhstan No. 2 ex-Soviet oil producer after Russia
* Russia may increase output by 1 pct in 2015
* Mexico will not consider output cuts for now
(Updates with OPEC context)
By Raushan Nurshayeva and Mariya Gordeyeva
ASTANA/MOSCOW, Sept 9 Kazakhstan could cut oil
output by a tenth next year if prices drop to $30 per barrel,
its energy official said, becoming one of the first big oil
producers to acknowledge limits to its ability to withstand a
battle for market share with OPEC.
It was not immediately clear whether the country would be
forced to cut output because some production would be losing
money at that price or whether it was voluntarily prepared to
cut output, which is only partially controlled by the state.
Whatever the reason, the statement by Kazakhstan's deputy
energy minister will be music to the ears of OPEC, which has
kept output near record levels over the past year in the hope of
depressing the production of higher cost crude oil by rivals.
Last year, non-OPEC Kazakhstan produced about 1.6 million
barrels a day, almost on a par with Angola, OPEC's eight biggest
Deputy Energy Minister Uzakbai Karabalin told reporters on
Wednesday that if the oil price next year was $50 per barrel,
Kazakhstan would produce 79 to 80 million tonnes, little changed
from this year's forecast of 80.5 million tonnes.
But if the price drops to $40, Kazakhstan's output would be
77 million tonnes and if oil were to fall to $30, production
would be cut to 73 million tonnes, Karabalin said.
Global oil prices have more than halved since last year to
trade at below $50 per barrel, pressed by oversupply from OPEC
and Russia, as well as a weakening China economy.
Karabalin, a former head of state energy firm KazMunaiGas,
did not elaborate on how Kazakhstan would cut its output. Two
industry sources said some options were cutting spending on well
servicing and shutting down old wells.
Kazakhstan is the second biggest producer in the former
Soviet Union, where the largest producer - Russia - has taken
the opposite approach to dealing with falling crude prices.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying
by Interfax on Wednesday that Russia might increase output by 1
percent this year from 10.6 million barrels per day in 2014.
Mexico, which like Russia and Kazakhstan is not an OPEC
member, said it would also not consider cutting oil output at
Oil production in Kazakhstan has been falling as the bulk
its fields are depleting. Output dropped 1.2 percent last year
to 80.8 million tonnes and is expected to fall again in 2015.
The Chevron-led venture, Tengizchevroil, is
Kazakhstan's largest oil producer. Last year, its output fell
1.5 percent to 26.7 million tonnes and is expected to remain
unchanged in 2015.
Kazakhstan was hoping to boost oil output, a major source of
budget revenues, through the Caspian offshore Kashagan oil
field, which was launched in September 2013 after a decade of
delays and cost overruns.
But it halted production a few weeks later when gas leaks
were detected and it is not expected to be up and running before
2017, a date confirmed by Karabalin on Wednesday.
Kazakhstan officials had expected the country to be
producing between 90 million tonnes and 100 million already in
2015, thanks to Kashagan.
On Wednesday, Karabalin said the lower forecasts were not
due to Kashagan's delays: "This is not about Kashagan, but
because the oil price is different now and costs are different."
(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova in Moscow and Ana
Isabel Martinez in Mexico City; writing by Katya Golubkova;
editing by David Clarke)