A senior government official said China had started playing a major role in Kazakh’s economy, including oil exploration, production and laying of pipelines to China, which is now turning into an area of concern. “Seeing the growing Chinese influence (almost 40 per cent of oil and gas business), Kazakhstan now wants India to be more proactive as it does not want to be over-dependent on China,” he told Business Line.
Kazakhstan has invited Indian firms to participate in partnership with KazMunaiGas, the national oil company, for participating in oil and gas blocks. This is a marked departure from the stance last year, when after agreeing to offer OVL a stake in Kashangan oilfield for about $5 billion, it pre-empted the process by selling the same to China.
India, which imports almost 80 per cent of its crude oil requirement, is expanding its sourcing basket. Kazakhstan is estimated to have 3 per cent of the world’s recoverable oil reserves and offers a good opportunity. An Indian delegation including senior officials from the Ministry for Petroleum & Natural Gas is going to Kazakhstan this week to deliberate on the issues.
Kazakhstan is closely watching the multi-million dollar trans-national Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. “If TAPI is successfully implemented, then laying a parallel crude oil pipeline that runs from Kazakhstan to India will be easier, as the route would have already been tested,” the official said.
Asked what could be the possible routes, the official said, there are three options — a network up to Chabahar (Iran) and then by tankers to India; by land following the TAPI route; and the last option also by land via Kashmir.
The $7.6-billion TAPI project is to transport gas from Turkeminstan. The envisaged 1,080-km pipeline (144 km in Turkmenistan, 735 km in Afghanistan and 800 km in Pakistan) will have a capacity to transport 90 mmscmd of gas — 38 mmscmd each for India and Pakistan and the remaining 14 mmscmd for Afghanistan.