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EU Seeks Closer Cooperation With Kazakhstan

(RFE/RL) BRUSSELS, May 4, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs arrives in Kazakhstan today to discuss energy cooperation with the country's leaders.

Piebalgs's spokesman, Ferran Tarradellas Espuny, told reporters in Brussels the visit reflects increased EU interest in tapping into Kazakhstan's vast energy reserves.

"The event marks the very first visit to Kazakhstan of an [EU] energy commissioner, and has as [its] objective the development and enhancement of energy cooperation between Kazakhstan and [the] EU," Tarradellas Espuny said.

In particular, Tarradellas Espuny said, Piebalgs will study possibilities for new export routes from the Caspian region to the EU, which would bypass Russia.

He said the EU is particularly interested in Kazakhstan because the country has the largest recoverable oil and gas resources in the Caspian region.

Piebalgs is accompanied by senior representatives of the European oil and gas industry, and will meet with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and various ministers.

Caspian Energy Special

Caspian Energy Special

For a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of energy issues in the Caspian Sea region and Russia, click here.

HOW MUCH OIL? The U.S. Energy Information Administration has estimated that the Caspian could hold between 17 billion and 33 billion barrels of proven oil. ("Proven reserves" are defined by energy experts to be 90 percent probable.) Other experts estimate the Caspian could hold "possible reserves" of up to 233 billion barrels of oil. ("Possible reserves" are considered to be 50 percent probable.) By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 261 billion barrels of oil and the United States 23 billion...(more)

See also:

Economic Forecast For 2006 Sees Growth, But Danger In Continued High Oil Prices

How Vast Are The Riches In The Caspian?

Experts Envision A Future Beyond Oil