March 2 (UPI) -- U.S. engineering services company KBR said it secured a contract for conceptual studies for oil field basins located in the Kazakh waters of the Caspian Sea.
The North Caspian Operating Company, working on behalf of a consortium of producers, secured KBR's services for conceptual studies and engineering work for offshore basins, including the giant Kashagan oil field.
"Our Caspian team is excited to provide fresh and cost effective ideas to NCOC with a commitment of maximizing local content," Jay Ibrahim, KBR's regional president, said in a statement.
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 NCOC said the first batch of crude oil from the field was being processed and destined for exports.
Production from Kashagan is holding steady at 160,000 barrels per day and production would accelerate to 180,000 barrels per day in the coming months.
Kazakhstan is among the oil producers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that's committed to a supply-side adjustment aimed at easing the glut of oil on the market that dragged crude oil prices lower last year
OPEC economists said in their report for February that crude oil production in Kazakhstan averaged 1.43 million barrels per day, an increase of 10,000 barrels per day. Output could decline in some regions, but Kashagan production is expected to increase steadily throughout the year.
The government in Kazakhstan estimated that total crude oil output could gain substantial ground by the end of the decade thanks in part to an expansion program planned for the Tengiz field, positioned in the wetlands along the shores of the Caspian Sea.