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Kazakhstan hosts oil-spill roundtable

Parties to discussions reviewed response to Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

By Daniel J. Graeber

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, April 24 (UPI) -- The government in oil-rich Kazakhstan hosted a roundtable discussion on developing a regional response to spills, the OSCE said Friday.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in coordination with the Kazakh Energy Minister and the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan organized a discussion on how best to plan a regional response to an oil spill program.

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"Once approved, the regional oil spill plan will be an important tool to ensure that the regional authorities have a system that will ensure effective co-ordination and integration of all relevant resources both from government and private sectors," Peter Taylor, a manager for the regional oil spill response organization, said in a statement.

The roundtable brought more than 60 representatives together in Astana to follow up on talks first launched in 2003 by oil investors in the region. Participants endorsed what the OSCE described as a draft template on oil spill response in the region. Parties to the talk said they took special note of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The OSCE said the event was part of a long-term effort to support an effective risk management sector in Kazakhstan.

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Kazakhstan's government in February said it expects oil production to increase by as much as 30 percent in part because of operations at its giant Kashagan field.

Kashagan is among the largest oil fields in the world, with an estimated 16 billion barrels of oil reserves. Production was halted in October 2013, less than a month after it started, when a pipeline associated with the field cracked open.

A resumption of operations is expected next year.

The OSCE roundtable coincides with the re-election bid from long-time Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

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