VI KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum

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VI KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum

The KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum will take place in Astana from 4 to 5 October 2011. This is the sixth edition of the international event that focuses onKazakhstan’s energy sector. Over the course of two days, the heads of government agencies from various countries and major international energy corporations, along with world-renowned and authoritative industry experts, will share their views and experiences on the key industry issues for Eurasiaand the world.

This year’s forum is entitled “Kazakhstan: 20 Years of Sustainable Growth, New Horizons for Investment and Cooperation”, which will be the topic discussed by the event’s participants. On this issue, Timur Kulibayev, Chairman of the KAZENERGY Association, has noted that over the course of those yearsKazakhstan has established itself as a respected sovereign state, dynamically developing country and full-fledged member of the world community. His words are supported by facts: Kazakh specialists, together with foreign investors, nearly doubled Kazakhstan’s share in the global oil market by 2010, and the country has become the world’s leading uranium producer (17,800 tonnes per year). By 2015, the country’s oil and condensate production is expected to reach 95 million tonnes per year, and gas production more than 59 billion m³ per year.

During the years of independence, a stable and dynamic energy sector has formed in the country. By the main indicators of economic development,Kazakhstan has long demonstrated its leading position among the countries of the former Soviet Union. A modern economic structure and financial system have been established, and there has been significant progress towards implementing the head of state’s goal of economic modernisation. Of course, mistakes will happen, but having a choice of how to develop is already a significant positive development. 

The recognition of Kazakhstan as a potential leader in the Central Asian region by the EU and U.S. has also played a role in the country’s development. Evidence of this can be seen in the desire of foreign investors to invest significant funds in Kazakhstan’s economy. For example, according to Erlan Idrisov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States, the Kazakh economy has received over $130 billion of investment from the U.S. since Kazakhstan became an independent state. Giants of American business, such as Chevron, General Electric and John Deere, have spoken positively about working in country.Kazakhstan, for its part, is doing everything it can to attract as much investment in the country as possible.

In this regard, the session entitled “Geopolitics of Eurasian Energy: Challenges and New Frontiers” within the KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum will be particularly relevant. Energy development involves globalisation and partnerships with other countries. For Kazakhstan, it is now very important to maintain its leading position in the region, and attract as much foreign investment as possible to the diversification projects currently being implemented, which, in turn, will facilitate the stable development of the country’s human and economic potential.

The continuation of the topic and discussion of important economic development issues can be expected at the next session: “New Horizons for Oil and Gas Industry Development: Investment and Innovation in New Technologies”. Forum participants will discuss partnerships between national operators and foreign oil companies. Equally interesting will be the subject of liquid hydrocarbon production at the Karachaganak field, as well as relations between countries in the Caspian Sea region and the prospects for oil production in the Caspian Sea. According to various estimates, the oil reserves in this region total about 2-4 billion tonnes. However, this does not mean that the Caspian region does not play a significant role in the energy supply of Western Europe; on the contrary, as the North Sea fields deplete, it may become a very significant role in the near future. It is clear that at present one of the most significant threats to the Caspian Sea is the unresolved questions about its legal status. For Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea issue is extremely important, as the diversification of exports of hydrocarbon resources will lead to greater energy independence.

The gradual and planned development of the Tengiz, Karachaganak and Kashagan fields, and the increased production of hydrocarbons there, will solve many other important issues at the same time. The development of the fields will enable a huge number of domestic businesses to start operating, create new jobs and provide additional opportunities for the development of Kazakh contractors and suppliers. A significant contribution is being made by companies involved in field development, and in social reconstruction in the areas adjacent to the fields. In all the projects, Kazakhstan is working with major international companies that are introducing new technologies. From this point of view, these are promising projects that promote innovation in the country.

Exhibitors will be able to speak about innovations at the session on renewable energy sources and nuclear energy development. This issue, from the point of view of Kazakh experts, is especially important, primarily because proponents of building nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan confidently predict that the country could become a major exporter of energy generated by nuclear power plants. What is more, this year, the KAZENERGY Association signed a general agreement with the World Energy Council. Indeed, to ignore the fact that globally more than 15% of all energy is generated in the nuclear sector is, at the very least, unwise. However, skeptics and ardent opponents of building nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan argue that the use of nuclear technology belongs to yesterday, and that the country should develop alternative energy sources (wind, solar, small hydropower stations). The next issue to be considered at the forum is, therefore, highly relevant: the problem of energy efficiency and environmental safety. Indeed, even among skeptics and implacable opponents of nuclear power plants, environmentalists, there is a tendency to discuss energy issues according to the principle of the lesser of two evils. Many still remember the Chernobyl disaster. The accident that recently occurred at the Fukushima-1 plant will also play a role in the active discussion and detailed consideration of nuclear power plant projects. This session promises heated discussion.

The KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum is rightly considered an important event not only in the oil and gas industry, but also in political life. A comprehensive discussion of current issues is just as important as taking the right decisions, and, if it takes place as part of a civilised dialogue, will have a positive effect on the development of Kazakhstan.