Cherdabayev Oil Dynasty
An interview with Boris Cherdabaev, a well-known Kazakh oilman, a representative of the Cherdabaev oil dynasty, who for many years participated in the management of the largest oil projects in the country, including the Tengizchevroil JV and the national oil company KazakhOil, participated in the discovery of the largest oil fields in Kazakhstan, such as Uzen, Tengiz and Kashagan. Currently, Boris Cherdabaev is a member of the Board of Directors of the State Center for the Support of National Cinema, a member of the Board of Directors, an independent director of Freedom Holding Corp. listed on NASDAQ since 2019.
- Boris Tazhgarievich, on the first hand, let me offer you congratulations on the release of a new book! As judged by the name (‘The Cherdabayev petroleum dynasty), it relates the fate of several generations of oil men in your family. Tell us a little about this publication, about the historical trajectory of your labour dynasty.
- Thanks for the congratulation. The book was prepared for several years. It includes the labor biographies of the most prominent representatives of our labor dynasty, who significantly contributed and keep making a significant contribution to the development of the oil and gas industry of Kazakhstan. At the beginning of 2020, the cumulative length of service of the Cherdabayev dynasty was 1273 years. We keep accurate account and record of the length of service of each representative of our family exceptionally in a straight line of descent.
We initially set ourselves the task to write a book not for family use, but a publication that would be interesting to the widest circle of readers. This is almost a history textbook, after reading which one can learn about all the stages of formation and development of the oil producing industry of Kazakhstan through the fate of members of one family, immerse oneself in the history of the XX – early XXI centuries.
Labor dynasties are an example for the career guidance of the younger generation, as well as a symbol of adherence to the profession, patriotism, strong family ties. I am convinced that the main resource of the economy is not only oil, but also people, human capital.
- This year Embaneft, the oldest oil-producing enterprise, celebrated the 100th anniversary. You were in charge of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Kazakhstan oil in 1999 and the release of the First oil encyclopedia of Kazakhstan. For you, as an oilman, who has done a lot for studies and preservation of the history of the oil and gas industry, most certainly, this event was quite important, emblematic?
- Without doubt. Embaneft is an enterprise from which, in point of fact, the history of the oil industry of the republic, the history of Emba big oil, began. Embaneft is the foundry of the first manpower of the industry, the industrial revolution of Soviet Kazakhstan began with this complex of enterprises. Such milestone anniversaries are a great opportunity to stop, look back and rethink the path in a big historical context, understand where we are today and lay down the groundwork for future development.
- Boris Tazhgarievich, the ‘Aldongar’ Public Foundation, created by you, has done much to support and implement culture importance projects in Kazakhstan. In addition to publications of historical-and-cultural, humanitarian nature, scientific and popular science series, your foundation has described almost the entire history of the oil industry of Kazakhstan in books, photo albums and movies. What place does the topic of oil have in the activity of the foundation?
- The oil has been and remains an important part of my professional and social activity. I have devoted all my professional activity to the oil industry, I know it from the inside, I was in charge with the opening up of many Embin deposits, Mangyshlak group deposits, development of Karachaganak, Tengiz. In some sense, this industry has brought up and trained me. But not only for that reason alone that I study the history of oil.
Tons of books have been written and hundreds of movies have been shot about revolutions, wars, victories and tragedies of the XX century. The achievements of independent Kazakhstan are also widely described in literature and cinema. While the oil production history in Kazakhstan for a long time was staying aside. To my invincible belief, not enough attention is paid to this important and significant part of our history, but in a year we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Kazakhstan oil! Kazakhstan is one of the oldest oil-producing countries in the world with deeply rooted labor traditions in this industry and should take its rightful place in the world-wide oil chronicle. Several generations of Kazakhstanis devoted their lives to this cause, invested their valiant heroic work into it. It is necessary to pay tribute to this memory, describe it in dignity and preserve it for future generations.
At the very beginning of the publishing activity of our foundation ‘Aldongar’, which turned 15 this year, we devoted a whole direction to the oil subject, that developed into a series of books ‘Oil Heritage’. To date, within the framework of this series, such books as ‘Oil: yesterday, today, tomorrow’ and its Russian reprint by Alpina Business Books company, the book ‘Oil of Kazakhstan. Secular history’, photo album ‘Oil of Kazakhstan. History in photographs’, as well as its second enlarged edition, the book ‘Caspian Sea’ about all the Pre-Caspian countries, the monograph ‘Tengiz, the oil giant. The Chronicle of success’. The preparations are under way of a similar publication on the Kashagan deposit. There have been shot documentaries and feature films about the history of the industry and some stand-alone projects.
Despite the fact that we have studied the entire chronicle of Kazakhstan oil in detail and it is described in books, this is still not enough. After all, such literature has an educational character, teaches young people by way of real life examples. In addition, these books contribute to the popularization of oil professions, technical disciplines, specialists in which we still miss extremely today. The oil is vital for our country. As Dostoevsky once said: "Money is a minted freedom." In our case, the pledge of freedom and independence rely heavily on hydrocarbon resources. In this connection, our compatriots should know the history of the industry, that has been, is and will remain the locomotive of the entire Kazakhstan economy for many years to come.
For me, as a hereditary oilman, a representative of the oil dynasty, with a total labor experience of more than 1200 years, the books publishing and the movies making about the history of the oil and gas industry of Kazakhstan is also a kind of proper duty to our ancestors, a tribute to the memory of the glorious work of Kazakhstani oil workers.
Of course, there is more work still needs to be done for us to research and preserve the historical heritage of the industry, up to the making of a feature film, a television series about the history of the oil industry.
- Let's talk about today. You were in charge of the largest oil and gas projects, were Vice President of Kazakhoil, national company, Director of Tengizchevroil Joint Venture, founder of BMB Munai, Inc., public oil company. As an experienced manager and production practitioner, what can you say about the oil industry of Kazakhstan at the present stage? What does the Emba heritage represent today? What are the challenges facing the industry?
- Looking back, it's worth noting that not a single oil field, including the Emba group, discovered in the Soviet times, was lost, all the deposits were matured, developed, gave life to new cities, several generations of oil men, laid the foundations of labor traditions, educated tens of thousands of valuable manpower. Moreover, the oil industry remains the basis of Kazakhstan independence through present. Today, such giant deposits as Karachaganak, Kashagan, training high-level professionals of international standard, took up this baton.
The political and economic situation in the world encourages to quickly give up dependence on fossil energy sources such as oil and gas. But we should not entertain illusions, that's not going to happen quickly. And Kazakhstan, whose economy is still largely resource-oriented, it should not be forgotten about this.