Experts see growth in Italy-Kazakhstan energy cooperation

Experts see growth in Italy-Kazakhstan energy cooperation

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 6 / Trend , V.Zhavoronkova/

International experts expect Italy to speak positively on developing cooperation with Astana during Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's official visit to Rome Nov. 4-6.

"Italy is very pragmatic developing its business interest in the region [Central Asia] and Kazakstan is the most important trading partner and the most stable country in the region," German Council on Foreign Relations expert Stefan Meister wrote Trend in an e-mail from Berlin.

He believes the Kazakh president's visit to Italy aims to facilitate cooperation in the energy sphere.

"Nazarbaev will have some positive statements from the Italian side, and they will support," Meister said.

Italy is one of Kazakhstan's largest trade partners, ranking third in trade volume after Russia and China. In January-August, trade between the two countries hit $4.5 billion.

According to Research Fellow at Moscow State University Stanislav Pritchin, a major issue on the agenda in Kazakhstan and Italy talks is developing the giant Kashagan oil field, whose oil will be exported through several fronts, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

"The Italian company [ENI] is a participant in the project [Kashagan] and performs basic work on the development of this giant field," Pritchin told Trend in a telephone conversation from Moscow. "I think a key topic of discussions is the development of Kashagan, and oil transportation."

Meister also believes oil and gas cooperation with ENI will be a hot topic during the Kazakh president's visit to Italy.

By late 2009, under the first phase of the Kashagan project's construction, plans include finishing over 70 percent of activities, North Caspian Operating Company BV (NCOC) Managing Director Pierre Offant said in September. Since 2008, the NCOC has operated the North-Caspian project. The participants of the international consortium on Kashagan are KazMunayGaz, Eni, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips and INPEX.

Kashagan's reserves are estimated at 35 billion barrels (over 4.5 billion tons).

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