• KGS/USD = 0.01118 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00223 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09140 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01118 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00223 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09140 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

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Two Years On from Invasion of Ukraine, Attitudes Towards Russia in Central Asia Have Changed

Tomorrow will mark the two year anniversary of the start of Russia's so-called special military operation in Ukraine. In that time, many people in Central Asia have begun to openly call this action an invasion and a war. This is a war between two countries that are close in many respects, two former republics from a large union that the nations of Central Asia were also part of. How and why has the attitude of Central Asians towards Russia and Ukraine changed in the last two years? The attacks on Ukraine were felt immediately in Central Asia, from the first day when migrants suddenly started arriving from the north. These were mostly young people, sometimes in groups, and sometimes with their families. It quickly became clear that this exodus was comprised of people who did not want to fight, and there were many of them. Also from day one, even though there are many ethnic Russians living in Kazakhstan, the new migrants were noticeably different from the local Russian faces. Their behavior and mode of dress were not the same as those already residing in Tashkent, Bishkek or Almaty. From the very beginning, there were conflicts although mostly they amounted to little more than drunken brawls that were soon forgotten. In February 2022, the cost of residential rentals skyrocketed following the attack on Ukraine, but prices seem to have since stabilized. Overall, though, most locals treated their new neighbors with understanding. Nobody wants war. Especially since, in the countries of this region, people still remember or at least heard stories about the evacuation of a large number of people from Russia and Ukraine during the Second World War. In those times, many children whose parents died during the occupation of western portions of the USSR by Germany found second families and second homes. Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uyghurs, Tatars - many Central Asians who had the opportunity adopted children from war-torn republics of the Soviet Union. Perhaps the most fundamental change is felt in the attitude of Central Asian people towards Russia as something immutable and monumental. Something previously unthinkable transpired: despite all its economic and political power, this huge northern neighbor could also be viewed as vulnerable. The fact that Ukraine is obviously not alone in its war against Russia  does not change this perception. In Central Asia, it is often said that in any negative situation, one must look for positive opportunities, and in a tangential way, the years of restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic served as preparation for the trials brought by the war. A realization had come to pass that it was necessary to prepare oneself to rely solely on domestic resources. The war further complicated a precarious situation as sanctions imposed on Russia also hit Central Asia. First, the financial system went into meltdown, then trade, and then the production sector, much of which was tied to the Russian economy. However, this situation forced Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to look for new...

Exclusive: Breaking Down Kazakhstan’s $21.6 Billion Claims Against International Oil Consortiums

The total amount of claims brought against the consortiums, North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) and Karachaganak Petroleum Operating (KPO) is the largest in the history of Kazakhstan. In March 2023, PSA LLP, the authorized state institution overseeing these projects, brought forward claims in international arbitration in relation to Kashagan and Karachaganak for $13.5 billion and $3.0 billion, respectively. In addition, the Atyrau Region environmental regulator filed a claim for $5.1 billion against the NCOC consortium for storing too much sulfur on site, discharging wastewater without treatment, etc. The claims of PSA LLP cover the period 2010-19 and relate to the oil consortiums’ costs for carrying out large projects, as well as tenders and insufficient work completed. The shareholders of NCOC, which is developing the offshore Kashagan Field, include: KMG Kashagan (16.877% stake), Shell Kazakhstan Development (16.807%), Total EP Kazakhstan (16.807%), Agip Caspian Sea (16.807%), ExxonMobil Kazakhstan (16.807%), CNPC Kazakhstan (8.333%) and INPEX North Caspian Sea (7.563%). Their total investments over the period have not been disclosed, but, according to various estimates, exceed $60 billion – meaning the state is currently calling into question about 23% of all costs. The KPO consortium is Shell (29.25%), Eni (29.25%), Chevron (18.0%), Russia’s Lukoil (13.5%) and Kazakhstan’s state-owned KazMunayGas (10.0%). Investments in this oil and gas condensate field are estimated at $27 billion, hence the filed claim is significantly smaller both in absolute terms and as a percentage of costs, standing at about 11%. A production sharing agreement was signed in 1997 for Karachaganak and in 1998 for Kashagan, with the contracts to be in effect for 40 years. In 2022, the sole participant in PSA LLP became Samruk-Kazyna Trust Corporate Fund, part of the state holding National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna, while Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy is currently entrusted to run PSA LLP. Say two, but mean three? NCOC and KPO dominate the industry through control of three fields. Tengiz, Kashagan and Karachaganak are the largest oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan. The country’s oil and gas condensate production in 2023 amounted to 89.9 million tons (about 1.8 million barrels per day), with the share of the “three whales” – as these projects are called – accounting for 67% of oil production: Tengiz with 28.9 million tons, down 1% versus the 2022 level; Kashagan with 18.8 million tons, a 48% increase; Karachaganak with 12.1 million tons, up 7% year-on-year. The stabilization contract for Tengiz was one of the first signed at the dawn of Kazakhstan’s independence in 1993, also for a term of 40 years, meaning it should be the first to expire in 2033. The shareholders of the Tengizchevroil JV are Chevron (50%), ExxonMobil (25%), KazMunayGas (20%) and Lukoil (5%). After completion of its FGP (Future Growth Project), Tengiz should produce about 900,000 barrels per day, a significant figure even by world standards. It is surprising that Kazakhstan has not yet raised or voiced any claims against TCO, even though the FGP budget has swelled from an initial $12 billion to $25 billion...

Bodies of Kazakh Rescue Workers Swallowed by Sinkhole Still Missing After Seven Weeks

The search for rescuers who fell into a sinkhole at a mine owned by JSC Maikainzoloto may resume in ten to fourteen days, it has been announced by Deputy Chairman of the Committee of Industrial Safety of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Musa Tanabaev. "Work on expansion and deepening" must be completed, Tanabaev said, and only then can a "direct search for the missing begin." The wife of Aidos Shaimerden, one of the missing rescue workers, has repeatedly asked local authorities to involve foreign specialists in the search. The Ministry of Emergency Situations has responded that this is not required yet. In the early hours of January 4th, near the Maikainsky mine in the Pavlodar Region, a bus carrying three rescue workers and a driver fell into a sinkhole. Shortly before the incident, they had received an emergency call about smoke in the area of the mine and proceeded to the site. Preliminary measurements of the sinkhole put the width of the collapse at 500 meters, with a depth of 150 meters. At noon of the same day, the bodies of two rescue workers who fell into the breach were found in the debris at a depth equal to that of a 25-story building. They were 53-year-old Oleg Tyshkevich, and 24-year-old Berdikan Sarkyt. The rescue operation was, however, complicated by the fact there could be more collapses at the edge of the newly formed pit. On January 5th, the police began an investigation into the tragedy. According to details of the special investigation, dust at the site of the sinkhole was mistaken for smoke, and at 01:14 a bus with first responders went to the location of a possible fire. The director of the mine followed them by car. When he saw the bus fall, he managed to slow down and report what had happened - thus preventing the death of four firefighters who were following. During the ensuing search, a tracking device showed that the bus was buried at a depth of about five meters from the bottom of the funnel. Two days later, rescuers with a surveyor descended to the bottom of the breach and examined it for the first time. On January 18th, heavy equipment completed the laying of a side ramp and lowered a small excavator down to the center of the sinkhole on a safety cable. During the initial excavation, parts of the bus, an oxygen cylinder, breathing apparatus and a rescue worker's bag were located. Later, a helmet, parts of the interior of the bus, and a first responder's hand-held radio were discovered. On January 26th, a special commission found that the collapse of rock mass into the abandoned mine was caused by unsatisfactory production management, there having been no proper oversight of the breaches formed as a result of the company's activities. An investigation was launched for "violation of safety rules during mining or construction works," and more than 40 employees and the management of the LLP were questioned, whilst documents and video...

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