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Bloomberg: Kazakhstan to `Significantly’ Raise Caspian Oil Field Estimates

By Nariman Gizitdinov

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) — Kazakhstan plans to raise the oil reserve estimates for an offshore exploration project in the Caspian Sea as ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc seek licenses for the field.

The new estimates for the Nursultan fields’ reserves are “significantly higher” than expected, Kazakh Energy Minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov said today, according to a phone interview with ministry spokesman Chingis Mukhanov.

Shell and ConocoPhillips are seeking stakes in the fields, which were thought to hold about 637 million tons (4.7 billion barrels) of oil and gas reserves, according to KazMunaiGaz, Kazakhstan’s state oil company. Shell may gain 35 percent in the fields, while KazMunaiGaz will retain stakes of at least 50 percent, Izmukhambetov said in June.

The Kazakh government won’t announce a tender immediately as it needs to study the results of the estimates, Izmukhambetov said, according to Mukhanov. No date was given for talks with the bidders, though there is “high interest” from the two companies because it’s an attractive project, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nariman Gizitdinov in Almaty, through the Moscow newsroom. Last Updated: February 16, 2007 07:21 EST

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