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Kazakh official hedges bets on Kashagan restart

March 4, 2014 at 8:24 AM

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, March 4 (UPI) -- It's too early to discuss when operations will resume at the giant Caspian Sea oil field Kashagan, the head of Kazakhstan's state energy company said Tuesday.

Sayat Mynbayev, chairman of national energy company KazMunaiGas, said production could resume at Kashagan later this year.

Kashagan is one of the largest oil fields in the world, with an estimated 16 billion barrels of oil reserves. Production was halted in October, less than a month after it started, when a pipeline associated with the field cracked open.

Mynbayev said investigations were under way to determine what happened to the pipeline.

"This is likely to be ready at the end of March, therefore it is too early to talk about the costs and timing of the resumption of oil production at Kashagan," he was quoted as saying Tuesday by the region's Trend news agency.

Last month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said it expected Kashagan to return to service in 2015, but below its initial production target of 370,000 barrels per day "because technical challenges and high development costs may limit its expansion."

There was no statement on the potential restart from the North Caspian Operating Co., the consortium developing the field.

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