Kazakhstan hunts new partner for Abai after Statoil quits

By bne IntelliNews February 22, 2013

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Kazakhstan has launched a hunt for new partners to develop the offshore Abai oilfield after Norway's Statoil announced it is quitting the project.

A spokesman for the Norwegian company confirmed its plans to withdraw on February 21. "[A]s part of a global prioritisation process and the overall commercial and technical evaluations related to the Abai project, we have decided not to pursue negotiations," the spokesman told Azeri newswire Trend.

According to Oil and Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev, Astana is already mulling new partnerships on the project, after Statoil was reported to be pulling out in mid February. "KazMunaiGas will consider the issue of developing the Abai block with other partners ... I cannot name this partner yet," Mynbayev told journalists.

The minister also confirmed that Statoil has officially notified the Kazakh government of its plans to quit the development of the Abai field, which is estimated to hold at least two billion barrels of oil.

The Norwegian company has operated in Kazakhstan since 2004. It signed an agreement of principle with state oil & gas company KazMunaiGas on the field in 2011, under which they agreed to work together on developing the field.

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