Italian oil company ENI expects the enormous
Kashagan oilfield in Kazakhstan to pump its first oil by the end of 2012 or early 2013, its chief executive said on Wednesday, reaffirming an earlier forecast, Reuters reported.
ENI is one of several investors in the international consortium developing the Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea, the world's biggest oil discovery since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in the 1960s.
Cost overruns and assertive government policy opened the door for state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas to join the consortium of foreign investors in 2008. The start of the complex project has repeatedly been delayed.
"First oil is expected some time in December 2012, or two to three months afterward," ENI Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni was quoted as saying in a Russian-language statement on the presidential website, www.akorda.kz.
Scaroni, in the Kazakh capital Astana to attend a meeting of foreign investors, made the comments immediately after meeting Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan, which holds 3 percent of the world's recoverable oil reserves, plans to increase crude output by more than 20 percent to 100 million tonnes by 2015. Kashagan will contribute much of this additional volume. The latest timetable for first production is in line with earlier estimates. Prime Minister Karim Masimov told Reuters in December that the Kazakh government would seek to reopen talks on Kashagan should production lag.
Beyond first output, the Kashagan consortium plans an ambitious and costly second phase that could potentially more than double production to 1 million barrels per day.
Oil and Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev said in January that Kazakhstan would not approve an existing proposal for the second phase due to prohibitive costs.
The consortium said last August, after similar comments from Mynbayev, that a "careful review" of the second phase began in 2009 with the aim of delivering a long-term contribution to Kazakhstan while adhering to safety and environmental standards.
The consortium's members also include Royal Dutch Shell, France's Total, U.S. majors ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, Japan's Inpex (1605.T) and Kazakhstan's state oil and gas company, KazMunaiGas.