and many others
Native Kazaks, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century and Kazakstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936. During the 1950s and 1960s agricultural "Virgin Lands" program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakstan's northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazaks to outnumber natives. Independence has caused many of these newcomers to emigrate. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country's vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets; and continuing to strengthen relations with neighbouring states and other foreign powers.
Update No: 278 - (01/03/04)
The boom enforces stability
The Kazaks are doing well in economic terms and that is conferring political stability. GDP growth is around 10% on an annual basis, with little let up in sight.
Everything depends, it is true, on oil prices worldwide remaining high. With OPEC intending to curb production and exports by 10% or so, the prospect looks promising.
Despite having a secure Central Asian-style dictatorship, the recent events in Georgia have been noted in Kazakstan, where an opposition of sorts does exist, just as the regime keeps up an appearance of democracy. Elections to parliament are due in October and the events in Tbilisi have given them a new interest and focus.
Nobody supposes for a moment that the regime of President Nursultan Nazarbayev is in serious danger. It is far more repressive than Shevardnadze's in Georgia. It is inconceivable that Nazarbayev would suffer the same fate as his Georgian counterpart. But the elections are likely to be more keenly contested than previously.
He is dealing from a far stronger hand than Shevardnadze ever had. The economy is booming, GDP growing by 10% per annum in the 2000s. Exports of oil and related products are growing even faster, fuelling the boom. There is every reason to expect this expansion to continue. Oil output was 800, 000 barrels per day in 2001, of which 70% were exports. By 2010 it is expected to reach 3.5m bpd, of which 90% will be exports.
Kazakstan is benefiting handsomely from now being seen as the prime alternative supplier of oil and gas in Eurasia after giant Russia for the West and Asia itself. It has proven reserves of 15bn barrels of oil and 2 trillion cu. m of gas.
Since then huge fields have come on stream in the Caspian Sea. The Kashagan field has reserves of 15bn barrels alone and likely ones of 40bn barrels, making it the largest find since the discovery of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska thirty years ago.
The Czechs show interest
The success of the economy is acting as a magnet for foreign investment, which is made welcome by generous tax relief and other measures, more so than in Russia. Former Warsaw Pact countries are often to the fore here, having a long experience of the market there and a knowledge of Russian, the lingua franca still in Kazakstan.
Nazarbayev has welcomed plans by Czech automobile concern Skoda to set up an assembly line in East Kazakstan region in 2004.
This was announced at a press briefing in Astana after a meeting between Czech foreign Minister, Cyril Svoboda, and Kazak Foreign Minister, Kasymzhomart Tokayev.
Svoboda said that he hopes that "it will be possible to bring an agreement between Skoda and Kazakstan to a successful conclusion." "Now this project seems to me to be encouraging," he said.
The Czech minister also said that the Czech government supports economic reforms and is interested in expanding contacts. "It is our wish that ordinary Kazak people will drive Czech cars, drink Czech beer from Czech glasses and travel to holiday in Czech resorts," Svoboda said.
Assembly will probably be set up at Asia Auto, in Ust-Kamenogorsk, which produces Niva cars using kits supplied by Avtovaz. This production was launched at the start of 2003.
Management at Skoda, which is part of Germany's Volkswagen, discussed the possibility of producing automobiles in Kazkastan with the Kazak government in autumn 2003. The board of directors of Volkswagen AG approved a decision in December last year to set up production of Skoda Octavia in East
KazMunaiGaz to up oil, gas condensate output
Kazak national oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz plans to produce 1.99m tonnes of hydrocarbons in the first quarter 2004, up 4.0% from 1.911m tonnes a year earlier, a source in the company's press service said, New Europe reported recently.
The company plans to refine 588,000 tonnes of oil at Atyrau oil refinery in the first three months of this year, compared with 596,000 tonnes in the same period last year, including 400,000 tonnes of its own crude - down from 500,000
Oil transportation by Kazak national oil transportation company KazTransOil, which is part of
KazMunaiGaz, is set to amount to 8.878m tonnes in the first quarter, up from 7.947m tonnes in the same period in 2002.
Gas transportation by ZAO Intergaz Central Asia, belonging to KazMunaiGaz subsidiary
KazTransGaz, should amount to 30.1bn cubic metres, up from about 30bn cubic
The press release said that production of oil and gas condensate by KazMunaiGaz subsidiaries in 2003 amounted to 7.915m
tonnes, up 6.5% for 2002. Production last year was 193,700 tonnes over target.
Gas production by the company's subsidiaries amounted to 1.162bn cubic metres, up 14% from 2002.
"The company's oil production divisions achieved these results thanks to significant targeted investment in construction and in the restoration of the well stock and the optimisation of field development systems," the statement said.
Throughput at Atyrau oil refinery last year amounted to 2.321m tonnes of oil, up 2.2%. KazMunaiGaz oil production divisions supplied 1.822m tonnes of oil to the refinery. KazTransOil transportation last year amounted 34.192m
tonnes, which is 3.875m tonnes more than in 2002. Gas transportation by Intergaz Central Asia amounted to 118.2bn cubic
metres, 7.6bn cubic metres more than a year earlier.
These figures include transit of gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
According to official statistics, Kazakstan produced 51.39m tonnes of oil and 7.54bn cubic metres of gas last year, up 8.6 per cent and 22.7 per cent from 2002, respectively.
KazMunaiGaz said it increased 18.9 per cent to 69.1bn tenges in 2003. Company revenue last year increased 4.4 per cent to 399bn
tenges. Capital investment increased 21.4 per cent to 58.5bn tenges, including investment in production of 47.5bn
The statement said that capital investment in the first quarter of 2004 would amount to 14.6bn
tenges. KazMunaiGaz, together with its subsidiaries and dependent companies, paid 78.2bn tenges to the Kazak budget in 2005, up 15 per cent from 2002, largely due to growth in revenue.
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