In the nearest years Kazakhstan will still be dependent on Russia in the exports of its oil to the world market. For the time being, all of our country’s attempts to direct the oil around Russia’s territory have not been realised. It seems that Kazakhstan is not in a hurry to carry out these projects. Being diplomatic in all respects, the country doesn’t want to quarrel with the mighty neighbour and agrees to its transit conditions. However, nobody doubts that Kazakhstan will reach the goal of diversifying its exports options; it is a matter of time.
Most of Kazakhstan’s oil exports are transported through Russian Federation. According to JSC “Transneft”, Russian oil transportation monopolist, more than 18 million tons of Kazakhtan’s oil is transported to the ports of Primorsk and Novorossiysk annually. This volume is not expected to decrease in the nearest future. Approximately 25 million tons of Kazakhstan’s oil is exported through Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which connects oil fields in Western Kazakhstan with port terminal in Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. However, Russia and Kazakhstan have similar problems: the existing transportation facilities will not be able to facilitate the growing production and exports. Currently Kazakhstan produces about 65 million tons annually, and within several years it intends to double the volume. Thus it will need to expand existing and build new transportation facilities. Partially, it is not in Russia’s interests, which is interested in increasing the transit of oil through its system of pipelines and doesn’t want to allow exporting Kazakhstan’s oil around its territory.
Fight of shareholders
The first oil-transportation investment implemented in the CIS with participation of foreign capital will not also become the largest one. The latest events around CPC mean that this system, which has annual capacity of 28 million tons of oil, will most probably be increased 2,5 times as was expected by the shareholders several years ago. Russian government, which owns the largest share of CPC – 24%, announced the terms of the CPC shareholders’ contract, which was signed in 1990s, to be unfair, thus creating a lot of difficulties for partners. Remember that Russian government in return for its consent to expand the system requested private shareholders to decrease interest rates on the loans provided for the initial building of the system, but didn’t intend to decrease the interest rates on the debts of the consortium to state shareholders, that is on the value of the assets transferred to the consortium. Among other requests Russian shareholder requested to cancel the claims for debts of the governments of Russia and Kazakhstan regarding the costs of preparing these assets; increase tariff in order to rapidly offset the debt; providing Western producing companies with the guarantee “extract and pay”; reconsideration of the tariff in order to compensate for any excess capital expenditure for expansion of the project (previously foreign shareholders received large profits from exports of the oil due to low payments to Russia for transit); financing the expansion from external sources (the existing debt should be considered as secondary compared to this new borrowing). Moreover, in order to strengthen its influence over CPC Russia requested that 50% of the management of CPC would be representatives of governments, and the next General Director of CPC would be Russian.
Private shareholders of CPC, who didn’t agree with Russia’s conditions of expanding the system for a long time, after all signed the Memorandum on mutual understanding two years ago. However, the details of fulfilling the terms became the stumbling block. For example, most of the shareholders are concerned with growth of tariff for transit of 1 ton of oil above the expected level of $38 (current tariff is $24) up to $50-55. Such sharp growth of tariff is against the interests of shareholders that produce oil, because it would considerably increase their transportation costs.
However, “Transneft”, which received the right to manage 24% of state owned shares of JSC CPC-R (Representative of CPC in Russia) in June 2007 due to decree by the President Vladimir Putin, intends to maximize the benefits from its leading position in CPC. On the meeting of the shareholders of CPC “Transneft” suggested to change the scheme of offsetting the consortium’s debt of $5 billion to issuing euro-bonds for this amount. They say that “Transneft”, besides the above requests, wants to change the Charter of JSC CPC-R, by replacing the rule of making key decisions within CPC based on 100% consensus with 75% votes rule. Murod Mukhamedzhanov, General Director of “Transneft-Finance”, threatens bankruptcy of CPC in case if other shareholders don’t agree with these suggestions.
Russian and Kazakhstani analytics advice not to dramatize the situation with CPC. Most of them think that the shareholders should agree with suggestions of “Transneft”. Firstly, issuing euro-bonds have a good prospective. Secondly, it will rid them from further pressure from Russian government, which will achieve its goals anyway. They don’t take seriously the bankruptcy scenario, considering it as a pressure lever over private shareholders of the pipeline.
Many analytics think that the issue of expanding CPC was raised by the government of Russia because they wanted to direct the CPC’s oil into the pipeline Bugas – Alexandropoulos, which is lobbied by Russia, Bulgaria and Greece; the construction if this pipeline is planned to start in 2009. The pipeline will allow passing around overloaded channels of Bosporus and Dardanelle, which connect the Black Sea with Mediterranean Sea and are controlled by Turkey. “Why spend about $2 billion for expansion of CPC, when you can participate in another international consortium and create a bypass, diversifying the oil flows” – they reason. Although the management of CPC hasn’t officially announced Russia’s intent to include own shareholders into the project, it is known that national holding “KazMunayGas” and American “Chevron”, which own 20% and 50% of joint venture “Tengizchevroil” (TCO) respectively (the largest oil supplier in CPC), have already declared their desire to participate in new Bulgarian – Greek oil pipeline. Representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and “KazMunayGas” have already discussed the possibility of involvement in the project with the governments of Bulgaria and Greece, which are ready to cell 49% of their shares.
While the issues of CPC expansion and Kazakhstan’s involvement in Burgas – Alexandropoulos are being resolved, producing companies in our country that need additional oil transportation capacities are searching for alternative ways of exporting hydrocarbons. In late 2005, at the height of the dispute among the shareholders of CPC, TCO, which plans to double oil extraction by 2008 to 25 million tons, signed agreement for transportation of its oil through “southern route”. This route consists of exporting oil from Tengiz deposit through Aktau port to Baku through the Caspian Sea, and then the oil is transported to Batumi (Georgia) on the Black Sea to be supplied later to international markets. This route also enables TCO to access the pipeline Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan (BTC), to which Kazakhstan officially joined in 2006. Besides, in 2006 the second largest supplier in CPC – international consortium Karachaganak Petroleum Operating (KPO), which develops Karachaganak oil and gas deposit, started exporting the resource using new route through Odessa. The resources are transported through the route Karachaganak – Bolshoy Chagan – Samara, and from Samara using the system of “Transneft” the oil can be directed to the ports of Black Sea and Baltic ports or to Europe through pipeline “Druzhba”. This route has naturally supplemented the existing system of supplying the resource from Karachaganak to CPC and Orenburg refinery.
In the near years the route to Samara will not be able to completely satisfy the growing exporting capacities of oil producers. Kazakhstan and Russia, several yeas ago having announced the possibility to increase the transit capacity of Atyrau – Samara pipeline from 15,6 to 25 million tons of oil per year, still cannot agree on principles and conditions of realizing the project. It is known, that for many years this pipeline was one of the main routes of exporting Kazakhstan’s oil through Russia to world markets; however, during the recent years the directions of oil exports have been significantly diversified. Yet the demand the capacity of Atyrau – Samara pipeline grows every year. Currently the transit capacity of this system has reached its maximum. For its expansion the state owned JSC “KazTransOil” and “Transneft” have been using anti-turbulent additives for several years, this technology is expanding all over the world. The experiments made in 2002 showed that using these additives on Russian part of the pipeline Atyrau – Samara can increase the volume of transit to 17,5 million tons per year. In reality these measures increased the transit capacity of the pipeline from 12,3 to 15,6 million tons, and volumes transported increased from 11,8 million tons in 2000 to 15,6 million tons in 2006. In May 2006 the record volume of oil was transported through Atyrau – Samara pipeline since it was launched – 1,37 million tons. During the first half of 2007 7,974 million tons of oil was transported from the pipeline, this is 7% higher than the plan and 134 thousand tons more than during the same period last year. Currently Russia and Kazakhstan work on conforming technical tasks of increasing the transport capacity of the pipeline, and develop regulations for consecutive transit of Kazakhstan’s light oil in the direction Atyrau – Samara – Western border of Russia in the volumes of 2,5 and 10 million tons per year. On 5 October 2005 JSC “Transneft” and JSC “KazTransOil” signed a protocol on the issue of consecutive transportation of oil of different quality. Nobody in Kazakhstan talks about the technical possibility, terms and costs of expanding the capacity of Atyrau – Samara pipeline to 25 million tons now. Nobody also mentions particular time of starting to transit Kazakhstan’s oil to the world markets through Caspian Sea using the BTC pipeline, which is the first route bypassing the overloaded Turkish ports.
In 2007 Astana reported speeding up the process of cooperation with Baku on BTC project three times. Kazakhstan officially approved this project in 1990s and joined it in summer 2006. In January this year “KazMunayGas”, subcontractors on PSA (product share agreement) in the north of Caspian Sea (Eni, Total, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, ConocoPhillips and Inpex) and Tengiz group (Chevron Limited and ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Ventures Inc) signed a memorandum of understanding the main principles of cooperation on the project of creating Kazakhstan Caspian Transportation System (KCTS), which was assigned for exports of oil from Kashagan and Tengiz deposits through the route Yeskene – Kuryk – Tbilisi – Ceyhan. In early summer this year, before Ilkham Aliev, the President of Azerbaijan, came to Astana, “KazMunayGas” announced that the process had started. Eventually in August the leaders of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan shook hands and agreed on speeding up the cooperation in this direction. Kazakhstani officials for some reason don’t announce the way this process will be carried out. Officially it is only known that within KCTS they plan to build 740-kilometres long pipeline Yeksene – Kuryk and transportation system that would consist of oil terminals on the Caspian shore in Kazakhstan, tankers and vessels, oil terminals on the Caspian shore in Azerbaijan and structures connecting it with the BTC system. We also know that KCTS will initially be able to transit 25 million tons per year and this figure will then grow to 38 million tons. The time of building and launching KCTS will probably be connected with the time of starting oil extraction in Kashagan, which is delayed for the second time from 2008 to 2010. There is no need for Kazakhstan to be in a hurry. However, “KazTransOil” denies the connection between these terms, they state that the negotiations with Total and Tengiz group on the main principles of the project realization are continued. Currently, the issues of business-structure and financing the project are discussed. The sources in the administrations in Atyrau and Mangistau oblasts state in turn that the projects of building infrastructure for KCTS have not started, and also cannot state when these works will start. Experts even think that Astana is ready to delay the start of oil extraction in Kashagan because of absence of necessary transportation infrastructure. It is not in the interests of Agip KCO (operator of Kashagan) and Kazakhstan to start extraction in Kashagan before the export problem is resolved, including having some export strategy that would identify the volumes, terms and costs of transit. Strangely enough, development of such strategy has just started in Agip KCO, and it is early to discuss its contents. According to BP-Azerbaijan, operator of BTC, by end 2008 this pipeline is expected to have the transit capacity of 1 million barrels per day. Moreover, this figure only includes Azerbaijan’s oil, and doesn’t take into account Kazakhstan’s resources. The volumes of Azerbaijan’s oil exported towards Turkey are growing rapidly, although the exports only started in June 2006. According to State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), regardless of Kazakhstan’s real interest in the pipeline its transportation capacity can be increased. The only question in financing such project. The BTC project may need Kazakhstan’s oil if extraction from Azerbaijan’s deposits Azeri-Chyrag-Guneshli (ACG) decreases. Currently approximately 700 – 750 thousand barrels per day are extracted there; the production record of 1 million barrels per day may be reached in 2010, after that a decrease in extraction rate may occur. By that time Kazakhstan plans to start industrial exploitation of Kashagan, hydrocarbons of this deposit may then be required by BTC project. However, Azerbaijan also has recently launched production on Shakh Deniz deposit, condensate from the deposit is also loaded into BTC.
Don’t forget that only four companies can export oil through BTC, which are shareholders of BTC project and Agip KCO; these companies are ConacoPhillips, INPEX, Eni and Total. Other members of North-Caspian project will have to search for other ways to export the oil, as for example TCO, or use BTC on conditions less beneficial than to its shareholders. There is also another scenario; it involves Russia, which has always been against BTC, because it bypasses its own territory.
There will be no bypass
Recently a top manager of one of national companies told to the author of this article that Kazakhstan has refused from participation in Odessa – Brody project in the near future. This project was also considered as a bypass. According to him, Astana will not conflict with Moscow, which is against the Ukrainian pipeline project. Due to Russia’s intervention “Ukrtransnafta” couldn’t receive the support of “KazMunayGas” and Chevron; although four years ago they even signed preliminary agreement for transportation of 3 and 9 million tons of oil respectively. These words were said when in early 2007 in Kiev Nursultan Nazarbaev, President of Kazakhstan, and Victor Yushenko, President of Ukraine, agreed on speeding up cooperation in energy sphere, and build 52 km part of Odessa – Brody pipeline till “Yuzhny” terminal on the Black Sea. By the way, it was third serious attempt by Astana and Kiev to direct Kazakhstan’s oil through Ukraine to Europe, without taking into account many negotiations and presentations of Odessa – Brody project in Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Europe. The first real step towards each other the parties made in July 2003 when they signed the agreement to build the above mentioned 52 km part of the pipeline to “Yuzhny” and announced that Kazakhstan was ready to participate in the project of extending Odessa – Brody pipeline to Polish city Plotsk. Joint venture (JV) “TransYug”, which was formed in autumn of the same year by “KazMunayGas” and “Ukrtransnafta”, was expected to work on realization of these agreements. This JV hasn’t started the work, the situation around Odessa – Brody pipeline in the reverse or averse mode became political, and in those conditions Kazakhstan preferred to stay as an observer, rather than supplier of the resource. The second attempt by Astana and Kiev to cooperate in development of this energy corridor was made in November 2005. Nursultan Nazarbaev visited Kiev and the parties agreed on Kazakhstan’s involvement in Odessa – Brody project within a year and integration of pipelines “Druzhba” and “Adria”. New JV “TransMunay” was created, while “TransYug” was forgotten. However, this JV also became nothing more than a declaration cooperation.
“Ukrtransnafta” has always been annoying Moscow by announcements that Kazakhstan’s oil could be transported to Europe through the pipeline Tengiz – Novorossiysk and theough inter-system connection pumped to the system of Ukrain’s pipelines till “Yuzhny”. Russia, unhappy with the annoying PR of Ukrainian project, in response used political instability in Ukraine to achieve the decision that the pipeline Odessa – Brody is used in reverse mode, thus Kazakhstan cannot access it. Transit of Kazakhstan’s oil is very beneficial for Kiev. Due to these supplies it plant to free from Russian control. Currently Ukraine imports 75 – 80% of oil consumed; and most of the imports come from Russia. Ukrainian oil transit system consists of two major pipelines “Druzhba” and “Pridneprovskye magistralnye nefteprovody”; their export potential is in excess of 100 million tons. However, according to “Ukrtransnafta”, despite this capacity, the volumes of crude oil transported through Ukraine to Europe continuously decrease. In future they may decrease even further, taking into account Russia’s intent to re-direct its oil to Primorsk and free “Druzhba” pipeline. Kazakhstan is also interested in supplying its oil to Odessa – Brody pipeline, because of diversification of energy exports, preservation of oil quality (system of “Transneft” doesn’t have quality bank) and expansion of cooperation with European countries. Several years ago Pricewaterhouse Coopers concluded that the oil from Caspian Sea could be transported through “Druzhba” pipeline to Czech Krapuly refinery, German refineries in Ingolstadt, Warburg and Karlsruhe, Austrian Shvehat refinery, German port Wilhelmshaven and Croatian port Omishal. Early this year Warsaw suggested Astana “energy friendship”, including Ukrainian route Odessa – Brody. Currently Poland is annoyed with Russia’s threats to cut oil supplies to Lithuanian oil concern Mazeikiu Nafta, which is owned by Polish company PKN Orlen. That’s why the supplies from Kazakhstan would be beneficial for PKN Orlen and Lithuania, and if the supplies could be routed bypassing Russia, they would also be profitable. Kazakhstan, which has promised Warsaw to think about the suggestion, is not keen on going to Lithuania, especially bypassing Russia. In late 2005 Astana already searched for bypass, when because of conflict of Kazakhstan’s and Russian interests regarding Mazeikiu Nafta “Transneft” one-sidedly cancelled 10-year contract with “KazTransOil” on 12 million tons annual supplies of Kazakhstan’s oil to Lithuanian Butinge terminal. However, after loosing the battle for share of Mazeikiu Nafta and taking offence from Lithuania and PKN Orlen, “KazMunayGas” stated that it would not use these or other schemes of supplying oil to Lithuania.
One of top managers of another national company said that Kazakhstan would rather go for alternative bypass project, suggested by Russia.
The only Kazakhstan’s independent oil pipeline project, which could only indirectly be influenced by Russia, is trans-national pipeline Atasu – Alashankou with initial transit capacity of 10 million tons per year. The capacity can be increased to 20 million tons on the second stage of development. It was launched on 15 December 2005, while full scale supplies from Kazakhstan to China through this route started only in second half of July. Despite optimistic expectations of Kazakhstani party to export about 6 million tons of Kazakhstan’s and Russian through Atasu – Alashankou in 2006, the actual volume of transported oil barely exceeded 2 million tons. Despite Kazakhstan’s suggestions, Western-Siberian oil producers last year didn’t get interested in this direction.
According to JSC “KazTransOil”, in compliance with Protocol for 2007 of the Agreement between the governments of Russia and Kazakhstan on cooperation in development of FEC (fuel-energy complex) of 25 December 1993, they expect supplies of 12 million tons of Russian oil through pipeline Omsk – Pavlodar, including 5 million tons for the direction Omsk – Pavlodar – Atasu – China. In total during January – July 2007 Atasu station loaded 2,731 million tons of oil into the pipeline. “KazMunayGas” has stated that the negotiations with the suppliers are done by CNPC oil corporation, which owns 50% of “Kazakhstan – China Pipeline” (KCP) that has built and is working with the pipeline Atasu – Alashankou (the second equally important owner is “KazTransOil”). According to the statement, Kazakhstani party is not involved in the negotiation. “KazMunayGas” has always expected that Kazakhstani companies with Chinese ownership will become the suppliers for this system; those are JSC “CNPC-Aktobenmunaygas”, which develops Kenkiyak and Zhanazhol deposits, and PetroKazakhstan, which works on Kumkol deposit in Kyzylorda oblast. It was expected that on the initial stage 1,5 million tons of oil from Aktyubinsk would be brought to Atasu station by railway and transported further through pipeline; and 3 million tons would be supplied from Kumkol, while the rest of the supplies would be provided by Russian companies in Siberia. “KazMunayGas” says that Russia, which started to pump its oil to China through Kazakhstan this year, can annually supply 8 million tons into the pipeline Atasu – Alashankou. Besides suppliers CNPC is negotiating with “Transneft” regarding their transit capacities in Russia. “Transneft” is concerned in firstly the volumes and quality of oil that Russian companies would want to export through Kazakhstan, and secondly in the schedules for the deliveries. Regarding the former concern, it will be necessary to decide whether to transit different quality oil consecutively or mix them; currently “Transneft” transports only one quality resource to Omsk refinery. The latter concern is because the company doesn’t want to build an additional pump station and would like to know if current capacity is enough to pump Siberian oil through Omsk – Pavlodar pipeline. During the Soviet times Omsk – Pavlodar pipeline was designed for 40 million tons of oil per year, and it actually transported 20 million tons; Pavlodar – Atasu – Shymkent was designed for 20 million tons and transported 12 million tons. So there is capacity for transit of Russian oil, moreover, Kazakhstan didn’t conserve its oil pipelines unlike Russia, which conserved some of its pipelines due to decreased oil extraction and decreased transit from Kazakhstan.
The countries of South-East Asia, especially China, are called the most promising market for oil sales. According to the forecast of International Energy Agency, by 2015 oil consumption in China may grow approximately twice – up to 500 million tons per year. That is, China will take almost everything that it will be offered, but even then those suppliers that come first and offer better cooperation conditions will have an advantage. Today Kazakhstan plays an important role in connecting in the near future all three segments of large Kazakhstan – China pipeline. In 2003 oil pipeline Kenkiyak – Atyrau was commissioned, its initial capacity was 6 million tons; it allowed the oil from Aktyubinsk to be transported through the systems of CPC and Atyrau – Samara. In 2005 the pipeline Atasu – Alashankou started operation. Beginning of building Kenkiyak – Kumkol pipeline is planned for December 2007, with initial capacity of 10 million tons per year. This pipeline is expected to start operation in October 2009. Later the oil from Western Kazakhstan, including Kazakhstan’s sector of Caspian Sea is expected to be also transported through Kenkiyak – Kumkol. In order to achieve this, reversing the operating Kenkiyak – Atyrau pipeline is planned. Commissioning Kenkiyak – Kumkol pipeline will significantly improve the business structure of “KazTransOil”, which will play more important role in supplying the growing Chenese markets with energy. It will also increase the supplies of oil through Atasu – Alashankou to the second projected capacity of 20 million tons per year.
The international trade port Aktau on the Caspian Sea is still the most important export direction for Kazakhstan’s oil producers. There JSC “KazTransOil” transfers the oil from pipelines and trains into tankers. Currently the oil is delivered to the port’s terminals through Kalamkas – Karazhanbas – Aktau pipeline and railways from deposits in Mangistau, Atyrau, Aktyubinsk and Kyzylorda oblasts. After “KazTransOil” has modernized the trestle bridge on Aktau station transfer of oil from railway cisterns is conducted all year round. The reconstruction and expansion of trestle bridge on Aktau station carried out in 2003 – 2005 allowed increasing the volumes of oil transferred from railway transport into tankers form 2,9 million tons in 2002 to 4,5 million tons in 2006. From the port in Aktau Kazakhstan’s oil is exported to Neka port in Iran; through the route Aktau – Makhachkala into the pipeline systems of “Transneft” and further deliveries to Novorossiysk; the oil is also exported to Baku with further deliveries to Batumi port on Black Sea. JSC “KazTransOil” stated that active development of above mentioned export directions allowed increasing the volume of oil transferred into tankers to more than 8,5 million tons in 2006. In the future Aktau port intends to double its capacity, and the necessary activities are being carried out already.
Notice that last year “KazTransOil” became one of the co-establishers of JV “Batumi Terminals”. Kazakhstan’s oil will be transported to Batumi through Caspian Sea and then through railways. However, they say that after nine months since the deal was announced to be completed Kazakhstan still hasn’t paid British Greenoak Group for the acquired shares. “KazTransOil” doesn’t comment on this, preferring silence for some reason.
Instead of after-word
Currently Kazakhstan doesn’t have enough oil for the new projects, it should have in 5 – 10 years when extraction on the shelf starts. However, the latest results of drilling in this sector didn’t satisfy Astana: the first wells in Kurmangazy and Tyub-Karagan structures, drilled with participation of Russian “Rosneft” and “Lukoil”, were empty; while Shell during 2007 postponed drilling the first well on Zhemchuzhina structure twice. Anyway, all investors talk about the prospects of oil exploration on Kazakhstan’s off-shore territory. Oil extraction in Kazakhstan is expected to reach 90 million tons in 2010, and 150 million tons in 2015, when new off-shore deposits will be developed. Only Kashagan and Tengiz will give Kazakhstan additional 40 million tons per year, which could be exported somewhere. Except the above mentioned routes, in the near future Russia plans expansion of transit capacities towards China and Europe. Kazakhstan, which pursuits independence in the issue of oil export on one hand and doesn’t want to conflict with the neighbour, should soon choose among the routes for exporting the oil from Caspian Sea suggested by Moscow. It is important not to loose our own benefits.