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Kazakh Offshore Development Projects Lose Major Investors

Infrastructure on D Island, the main processing hub at the Kashagan offshore oil field

Kazakhstan's effort to tap into its offshore oil and gas wealth has taken a hit with the withdrawal of major foreign investors from two Caspian Sea projects.

Kazakhstan announced on October 21 that British-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell was walking away from its agreement to develop the Khazar field, which is located next to the country's giant but troubled Kashagan field.

The Kazakh state gas firm KazMunaiGaz said in a statement that Shell had invested about $900 million into the Khazar field, which is estimated to contain 40 million tons of oil and 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas, but opted out due to "low profitability."

The Khazar field, of which Shell held a controlling stake, is set to be returned to the Kazakh state.

Meanwhile, the Kazakh Energy Ministry announced on October 21 that the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) -- a multinational consortium that includes Shell and KazMunaiGaz, among others -- was leaving the Kalamkas-Sea oilfield project.

Kazakhstan is considering whether to seek new investors for the Kalamkas field, which is also due to be returned to the state if no development plan is approved by the end of October.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, Reuters, and New Europe