ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The government of Kazakhstan said it was looking for partners to develop the offshore Abay oil field in the Caspian Sea after Statoil left the project.
Norwegian energy major Statoil pulled out of the project after failing to reach a deal to start work in the offshore field. Statoil and state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas signed an in-principle agreement in 2011 to work in the region.
Kazakh Oil and Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev said Astana was looking for new partners to develop its territorial waters.
"KazMunaiGas will consider the issue of developing the Abay block with other partners," he was quoted by the region's Trend news service as saying. "I cannot name this partner yet."
Kazakhstan is the second-largest oil producer among former members of the Soviet Union. The Abay field is said to hold at least 2 billion barrels of oil.
Analysis from Bloomberg News states that delays, like Statoil's, and high costs have hampered Kazakhstan's ability to expand offshore oil and natural gas development.
There was no formal announcement from Statoil, which opened its offices in Astana in 2004.