By Laura Suleimenova
July 17, Kazakh oil and gas minister Uzakbai Karabalin arrived in Atyrau on a working trip. After visiting Kashagan with the governor B. Izmukhambetov the official said its current level of readiness for experimental-industrial production is 98%.
"The onshore complex is ready, we came to check the preparedness on the islands. Being a world class complex technologic process involving kilometers of equipment, it requires great responsibility, thus no need to hurry. At the same time we have ascertained the contractors are actively working. Equipment test results [apparently he means the sweet gas supply procedure at the offshore facilities, D island] are encouraging. Hopefully, this year is going to be successful," Mr Karabalin said.
Not once, the top official mentioned 'perhaps', 'hopefully' in his speech and even jokingly wanted to knock on wood so not to jinx the optimistic impression he had experienced at Kashagan.
Later, meeting journalists at a construction site of Integrated Gas and Chemical Complex KPI, he was asked who at last is buying the ConocoPhillips share in the North Caspian project - 8.4% on sale for $5 billion - but gave an evasive reply.
"No comments for now. At the moment partners are in talks on the purchase," he cooled down our curiosity.
China's CNPC is one of the probable buyers, which by all means tries to get a notable place in the project, but Mr Karabalin calls for calm.
"We know this company, I think, there is no danger - everyone will stick to business rules. For every large Chinese company there are larger companies that balance interests. What's important for us is to have a product and share this product in accordance with agreements signed," he said.
KPI, the second location in the visit, is a future gas and chemical complex with an annual project capacity of 1.25 million tons of polyethylene and propylene.
Located in 30 kilometers from Atyrau, not far from Karabatan, it is connected to the country by a rail line and a motor road.
Initial project cost amounted $6-6.5 billion, which has grown to $9 billion by now. Given this the project's feasibility is being optimized at this precise point in time.
On the same day, the minister attended the Atyrau refinery where he was presented a performance report on the construction of an aromatic hydrocarbons production complex and an advanced petroleum refining facility - the plant's expansion projects.
The following day, Mr Karabalin met with the top management of Tengizchevroil LLP and afterwards listened to the 1H 2013 operating report of Embamunaygas JSC.
No journalist was allowed to these events.