The Territory of AbundanceSergey Smirnov
The 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence is an occasion to appraise how efficiently the republic has coped with a task to transform the gas branch from a component part of the All-Union fuel and energy complex into an independent system.
Much has changed in the Kazakhstan’s gas industry for the years of independence. This includes large-scale reorganization. In particular, JSC KazTransGas was formed with a task assigned on it to manage the country’s all gas transportation assets. Through its only shareholder, JSC NC KazMunayGas, the company actively participates in JV КаzRosGas founded in 2001. Today KazTransGas is engaged not only in the export and marketing of gas but also in its production.
Also, the recoverable gas reserves were increased: if in 1991 they comprised 2932.1 billion m3, then by 2010 – 3914.7 billion m3. According to the date of the International Energy Agency, by the volume of explored stocks of gas and gas condensate Kazakhstan currently is the world’s 15th largest country. Meantime, only about 20 of all fields taken on balance contain free gas. The gross gas production has increased by almost 5 times: if 20 years ago 7.8 billion m3 were produced, then in this year it is expected 40.5 billion m3.
Gross gas production in the RК, billion cubic meters
* - forecast
Source: Agency of the RK on statistics, Мinistry of Energy and Mineral Resources,Мinistry of Oil and Gas
The main volume of gas production in the country is provided by the Atyrau and Western Kazakhstan regions with their shares in the republican volume of production comprising 43 % and 30.8 % respectively. Despite the fact that over 50 enterprises are engaged in gas production, in the majority of them production is insignificant. The leaders are two companies – Karachaganak Petroleum Operating and Теngizchevroil– which provide 77 % of the whole gas production in Kazakhstan. Since 1999 the volumes of gas production from Karachaganak have trebled, and today the field provides 49 % of the total amount of gas production in the republic. The large gas companies are also JSC CNPC-Аktobemunaigasand Tolkynneftegas LTD.
The volumes of gas burning in the RК, billion m3
As the gas produced by the republic’s oil and gas sector mainly is associated (of 5 trillion m3 of explored stocks authorized by the State Committee of Reserves of the RК, only 1.4 trillion m3 fall on free gas), the dynamics of gas production is defined by the rates of oil production and technological solutions on the fields’ development. In particular, practically all associated gas from the Kashagan shelf field is planned to inject back into the reservoir, so, it is not considered as a commodity gas. And it’s understandable.
A peculiar feature of the forecasted resources of gas is their location in the subsalt sediments of the Pre-Caspian depression characterised by a complexity of extraction because of big depths (over 5 000 m), a multicomponent structure and a high content of hydrogen sulphide compounds. Therefore, one of the main problems in developing the country’s gas industry is the need of clearing the extracted gas from sulphurous compounds and reaching a commodity condition at the gas refineries. There are three gas refineries operating in the republic – Kazakh, Tengiz and Zhanazhol – but their capacities do not provide full processing of gas produced in the country.
Kazakhstan does not refer yet to the number of large gas producers: the growth in commodity gas production is much slower than that of gross output, and the gap between these indices is extending. The volumes of production of commodity gas have increased from 5 billion m3 to just 21.1 billion m3 in 2010. In this year, it is expected to produce 26 billion m3 and in 2020 – 28.6 billion m3. Meanwhile, earlier it was planned that the production of commodity gas in 2015 will reach 32.6 billion m3.