ASTANA, Kazakhstan, July 18 (UPI) -- A consortium operating in the giant Kashagan oil field off the coast of Kazakhstan said it is moving closer to full-scale production.
The North Caspian Operating Co. said it lit a flare to burn off natural gas associated with oil at the giant offshore field, bringing the project one step closer to full-scale production, which is expected later this year.
"Over the coming months, production will be progressively ramped up to the design capacity from 180,000 barrels per day in the first stage to 370,000 bpd in the second stage," the company said in a statement Wednesday.
The NCOC said its oil transit options include exports to the 28-member European Union and oil-hungry China where demand is expected to increase significantly this year.
The Kashagan oil field is one of the largest in the world, with as much as 16 billion barrels of estimated commercial reserves. The International Energy Agency said oil exports from Kazakhstan should more than double by 2035.
The consortium consists of Kazakh and international energy companies like Italy's Eni, French energy giant Total and ConocoPhillips, a U.S. company. In June, it said it completed the initial project facilities required for Kashagan production.