UPDATE 1-Kazakhs seek up to $3 bln in advance from Vitol for crude

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ALMATY, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Kazakh state-owned oil and gas company KazMunayGas plans to receive up to $3 billion from trader Vitol in the form of advance payments for crude from the Tengiz oilfield, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

KazMunayGas, which has a 20 percent stake in Tengiz, said it expected to get the first tranche within 2-4 months, but provided no other details such as shipment volumes. Tengiz produced 26.7 million tonnes of crude in 2014.

Vitol, which with the new deal has reaffirmed its position as the biggest trader in Kazakh crude aside from majors with upstream operations there, also declined to disclose any details.

Daniyar Berlibayev, the deputy head of KazMunayGas, said in September it was considering three-year deals for such financing.

KazMunayGas’ move follows similar deals by Russia’s Rosneft, which received around $10 billion from Vitol and Glencore in 2013 for future supplies spread over five years and signed a similar contract with trader Trafigura in the same year.

The planned pre-payment is roughly the same size as KazMunayGas’ bond buy-back offer announced last month and designed to reduce its leverage ratios which could otherwise drag down the firm’s credit rating.

In order to raise cash, KazMunayGas, whose consolidated net debt was $17.92 billion at the end of 2014, has also sold half of its stake in the giant Kashagan oilfield to the country’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna for $4.7 billion. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Jack Stubbs and William Hardy)