ExxonMobil holding up Kashagan oil field deal: Kazakhstan
( AFP ) - US energy major ExxonMobil is holding up a deal to resolve a dispute over the massive Kashagan oil field being developed by a Western-led consortium, Kazakh Energy Minister Sauat Mynbayev said on Monday.
The deal would involve Kazakh state energy company Kazmunaigaz doubling its stake in the project from 8.33 percent to 16 percent and has been agreed by all the other five companies in the consortium, Mynbayev said.
"If we can agree, that would be good. Basically, we've agreed with everyone except ExxonMobil," Mynbayev said in the capital Astana, a ministerial adviser, Dinara Shaimardanova, confirmed to AFP.
A spokesman for Kazmunaigaz, Ilya Pustogachev, declined to comment on the content of ongoing commercial negotiations but said "the talks are extremely tough at the moment."
Kashagan, an offshore field in the Caspian Sea, is the biggest oil reserve found in the world since the 1960s and is key to Kazakhstan's plans to become a top global oil exporter.
The Kazakh government has threatened it could force changes to the Kashagan contract if negotiations fall through with Western investors, because of extensive delays and cost overruns in the project.
ENI, Total, ExxonMobil and Shell each hold an 18.52-percent stake. ConocoPhillips, also of the US, owns 9.26 percent while Japan's Inpex and Kazakh state energy company Kazmunaigaz each hold 8.33 percent.
ENI said in a statement on Friday that the consortium had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kazakhstan government that represented a "significant step forward in Kashagan negotiations."
ENI said the deal would be finalised "by early 2008 at the latest."
The dispute over the project revolves around a delay in the start of production from 2005 until 2010 and a massive rise in the estimated overall cost, from 57 billion dollars to 136 billion dollars.