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Milestone reached for Kashagan oil field

One of the largest oil fields in the world is slowly coming to life offshore Kazakhstan.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Milestone reached for Kashagan oil field
More than 7 million barrels of oil produced and exported from the Kashagan oil field off the coast of Kazakhstan since late 2016. Photo courtesy of the North Caspian Operating Company.

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- More than 7 million barrels of crude oil have been produced safely from the Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan since September, the operator said.

The North Caspian Operating Co., a joint venture operating the giant oil field in the Kazakh waters of the Caspian Sea, announced Friday it's produced 7.3 million barrels of crude oil and an ultra-light form of oil called condensate since production resumed in late 2016. The consortium added that volume was exported to the foreign market.

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Production at Kashagan, which holds an estimated 16 billion barrels of oil, was halted in October 2013, less than a month after it started, when a pipeline associated with the field cracked open. Operations resumed in September and by October, the consortium said the first batch of crude oil from the field was being processed and destined for exports.

Production so far is around 180,000 barrels per day. The NCOC said that, once production optimization techniques are fully utilized, production should reach 370,000 bpd.

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According to the economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Kazakhstan was producing around 1.38 million bpd last year with the main share of growth coming from Kashagan.

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"Kazakh oil supply in 2017 will grow by 210,000 bpd to average 1.77 million bpd, through Kashagan's production ramp-up," OPEC said in its December market report.

Kazakhstan is one of the non-OPEC members committed to a supply-side adjustment aimed at easing the glut of oil on the market that dragged crude oil prices lower last year. In October, OPEC said Brent crude oil prices came under pressure in part from increased output from Russia and Kazakhstan's "massive" Kashagan oil field.

RELATED Kashagan crude oil ready for exports

Kazakhstan is still expected to be a main contributor of oil production from countries outside of OPEC.

RELATED Giant Kazakh oil field to be in production by year's end

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