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Guardian Unlimited: Key Kashagan oil meeting postponed – sources

Reuters Wednesday January 9 2008
(Adds details)
By Svetlana Kovalyova and Raushan Nurshayeva

MILAN/ASTANA Jan 9 (Reuters) – A key meeting between Kazakh authorities and heads of international oil majors developing the country’s Kashagan oilfield has been delayed for a few days, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev had summoned the heads of the six foreign oil companies to a meeting on Jan. 11 to end a deadlock over the future of the biggest oil find in the last 30 years.

“The meeting will take place on Jan. 13 or later,” one of the sources said, adding that Nazarbayev would be in China before that date.

Nazarbayev was in China on holidays on Jan. 7, according to his official web site http://akorda.kz, but it was not clear how long he would stay there.

Kazakh authorities have been irked by cost overruns and delays in the Kashagan project, which is led by Italian oil major Eni, and have pushed for a cash compensation and a bigger stake for state energy company KazMunaiGas.

The other foreign investors are France’s Total SA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Japan’s Inpex and U.S. oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhilips Corp.

Emboldened by sky-high oil prices, resource-rich Kazakhstan has been mounting pressure on the oil companies for months to secure itself a larger stake in the field.

KazMunaiGas, whose current 8.33 percent stake the government wants to double, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Events surrounding the development of the Kashagan field have raised concern among foreign investors that the Central Asian state may be following the lead of countries like Venezuela in tightening their grip on resources as world commodities prices surge.

The Kashagan talks were due to continue until Jan. 15.

(Editing by James Jukwey) ([email protected]; +39 02 661 29450; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))

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