By Raushan Nurshayeva
ASTANA, April 16 China has shown an interest in
buying the stake of U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips in a
multinational consortium developing Kazakhstan's giant Kashagan
oilfield, Kazakh Oil & Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev said on
"Kazakhstan has not yet taken such a decision, but there is
such a possibility," Mynbayev told reporters. He declined to say
which company or government body represented China in talks with
Kazakhstan over Kashagan.
Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest oil producer and the
second-largest post-Soviet producer after Russia, has the
pre-emptive right to buy out the 8.4-percent stake owned by
ConocoPhillips in Kashagan.
ConocoPhillips, which has been shedding overseas assets to
cut debt and increase its investment in lower-cost domestic
shale oil and gas, has said it intends to sell its Kashagan
stake to India's state-run oil and Natural Gas Corp
for about $5 billion.
Kazakhstan has until late May to decide whether to buy out
the stake of ConocoPhillips, and Mynbayev said that further
options would depend on the terms to be proposed by other
parties also wishing to own this stake.
He declined to speculate whether India or China would have a
better chance of owning the stake.
"If the terms offered by one side are significantly better
than those of the other potential buyer, then the logic (of
choice) of the authorities of Kazakhstan will be crystal-clear,"
Kashagan, the world's biggest oilfield discovery in more
than 40 years, holds an estimated 30 billion barrels of
oil-in-place, of which 8 billion to 12 billion barrels are
potentially recoverable, with first production expected in the
middle of this year.
Kazakhstan, a vast nation of 17 million, is home to 3
percent of the world's recoverable oil reserves. It has moved in
recent years to exert greater management control and secure
bigger revenues from foreign-owned oil and gas developments.
Kazakh state oil firm KazMunaiGas first entered the Kashagan
consortium in 2005 as a shareholder in 2005 and later doubled
its stake to 16.81 percent.
Identical stakes are held by Italy's Eni, U.S.
major ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and
France's Total. Japan's Inpex owns 7.56