Feb. 2 (UPI) -- By the end of January, the operator of the Kashagan oil field in the Kazakh waters of the Caspian Sea said it exported more than 70 million barrels of oil.
The Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan is one of the country's brighter prospects, though development has been impeded by a series of issues with infrastructure in a complex reservoir environment. The field was declared a commercial prospect in 2002 and, five years later, Italian energy company Eni, a field partner, said Kashagan could produce more than 1.5 million barrels per day. Preliminary estimates put the total reserve estimate above 9 billion barrels.
On Friday, the North Caspian Operating Co., the field's operator, said that, as of Jan. 30, it safely produced and exported around 73 million barrels of oil and condensate, an ultra-light form oil, from Kashagan.
"Our approach to ramping up production is a sequence of steady and planned steps to build confidence in our equipment, processes, and the reaction of the reservoir," the company said in a statement emailed to UPI. "Safety, as always, is our first priority and will not be compromised."
Kashagan resumed production in October 2016 following several years of delays brought on by an extreme operating environment with high levels of poisonous hydrogen sulfide.
Oil is Kazakhstan's primary export commodity and the country is party to a multilateral effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance an oversupplied market with managed production declines.
OPEC economists in their monthly report from January noted there were incremental production gains from Kazakhstan "once again due to higher output from the Kashagan field." Total crude oil production from Kazakhstan is around 1.5 million barrels per day.
The NCOC said exports would rely on a mix of existing pipelines and rail. A possible new route for pipelines from the southwest could link Kashagan up to more cross-border and international markets.