Books on Kazakstan
Update No: 330 - (30/06/08)
The coming Kazakh mega-power
People are talking about China and India as up and coming. But the ‘unknown
’coming country in Asia is actually Kazakhstan, in Central Asia no less.
Vast in size, as big as Western Europe, it only looks small on the map because
it is below Siberia. The land in Kazakhstan is very diverse in types of terrain:
flatlands, steppes, taiga, rock-canyons, hills, deltas, mountains, snow-capped
mountains, and deserts. Kazakhstan has one of the sparsest populations in the
world, with a population density of less than 6 people per square kilometre (15
per sq. mi.).
This in the age of global warming and climate change is no liability, but a
great asset. There are far too many people around, notably in China and India.
Kazakhstan, with more than 60% of the FSU's mineral resources, is poised to
become a huge success story. Within a few generations its inhabitants will be
extremely rich - that is the more clued up, or clannish, of them.
Its GDP has been growing in double figures throughout this decade. With oil now
priced at over $135 per barrel there is nowhere to go but up.
Nazarbayev the novitiate
Well apprized of his country's assets, the president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, had
a new idea. He wants Kazakhstan to head a Central Asian consortium of states,
centred in Astana, his capital. Kazakhstan would of course call the tune.
He is an unusual figure. He is the last of the Soviet pro-consuls, excepting
Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, an intensely unpopular figure at home and
Nazarbayev benefits his clan of course – and how! He is very popular. He has
after all presided over one of the the greatest booms in the history of
capitalism, to which his country is a novitiate. GDP growth per capita has been
10% per annum for decades. There are plenty of plums for his cronies and even
plenty of crumbs for the masses.
Karimov against Nazarbayev
The rivalry for dominion over Central Asia between Nazarbayev and Karimov is no
real contest. Uzbekistan may have more people, 22m to Kazakhstan's 16m. But that
is a disadvantage these days.
Nazarbayev is by far the shrewder figure. He sees no need to have people boiled
and flayed alive, as the macabre monster of Tashkent does, harking back to the
grotesque practices of his medieval forebears in the Mongols and Tartars,
gruesome customers all.
Nazarbayev is looking westward. He wants his country to put Central Asian
barbarism behind it.
Kashagan; Westward Ho!
The West is actually a far more important partner for Kazakhstan than recidivist
Executives from a Western oil consortium developing the Kashagan field sat down
for talks with Kazakh officials on May 8 to push on with the project's new
development plan. The consortium, which unites Italy's ENI, Exxon Mobil, Royal
Dutch Shell and other majors, is due to submit its proposals on the future of
the world's biggest oil find in three decades by the end of May.
Consortium members and Kazakh officials met in the capital Astana, to discuss
details of a deal reached in January that ended months of tense negotiations
over cost overruns and production delays at Kashagan.
The source said vice-presidents of consortium companies were holding closed-door
talks with senior officials from the Kazakh energy ministry and national oil
company KazMunaiGas [KMG.UL].
The January deal, while calming investor confidence shaken after six months of
squabbling between Kazakhstan and the oil majors, will be enforced only after
the sides agree on the precise production and structural details of the project.
Under that deal, KazMunaiGas would double its stake in Kashagan and strip ENI of
its leading role in the project, whose production start has been further delayed
to the end of 2011.
Industry sources have said the deadline for the proposals, set at May 31, may be
pushed back further if either of the sides requires more time to finalise
details, particularly the start of production and the structure of its new
The stand-off over Kashagan started in August when the Kazakh government accused
its partner shareholders of allowing costs to spiral to $136 billion from $57
billion, and most painful for them, delaying the start of production from the
original 2005 target.
The Russian angle
Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to double the capacity of a Caspian region
pipeline that should help open up Central Asian oil fields to Western markets,
Russia's Industry and Energy Ministry says negotiators reached agreement in
early May in Kazakhstan.
The ministry said in a statement on May 7 that expansion should take place in
two stages by 2012, bringing annual capacity to 67 million metric tons. The
1,510-kilometer (940-mile) pipeline connects the major oil fields in western
Kazakhstan with the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. It's the only one to
run through Russia that is not controlled by the state-controlled monopoly OAO
U.S.-based Chevron Corp. is the biggest oil company involved in the pipeline