Home > Kazakhstan > Biggest Find in Decades Becomes $39 Billion Cautionary Tale

Biggest Find in Decades Becomes $39 Billion Cautionary Tale

Thursday 17 November 2011

(Bloomberg) – After 11 years and US $39 billion of investment, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and their partners have yet to sell a drop of oil from what was touted as the world’s biggest discovery in four decades.

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Kashagan Field is an offshore oil field located in Kazakhstan. The field is situated in the northern part of the Caspian Sea close to the Kazakhstan city of Atyrau. The field was discovered in 2000 and was one of the larger discoveries in that decade, it is estimated that the Kashagan Field has commercial reserves from 9 to 16 billion barrels of oil. The field is offshore in a harsh environment, where sea ice is present in the winter and temperatures from -35 to +40° C can be encountered. Commercial production is expected to start by the end of 2012. It has been designated as the main source of supply for the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline. Kashagan is considered the world’s largest discovery in the last 30 years.
(Photograph: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Cantered on a man-made island 70 km from Kazakhstan’s coast, the Kashagan project is just months away from completion, $15 billion over budget and 8 years behind schedule. As the milestone of first oil nears, the Kazakh government is pressuring the group for a commitment on an even- bigger second phase, a project the oil companies are undecided on and one analyst says may not make money.

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