Articles by Christopher Pala

UN Puts Brakes on Caviar Exports

A United Nations agency has quietly stopped issuing export quotas for Caspian caviar until Russia and other littoral countries curb rampant poaching.

Kazakhstan Turns on Oil Majors

Cash-flush Kazakhstan, riding a tide of increasing crude exports and high oil prices, is making a hostile bid -- described by one analyst as a ""lose-lose"" proposition -- to wrest a slice of its Kashagan field from the Western oil majors investing in the project.

Beluga Called Threatened Species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has placed the beluga sturgeon, the world's most valuable fish, on its list of threatened species.

UN Gives Caspian States Deadline on Caviar Ban

The wildlife-protection arm of the United Nations last week gave four post-Soviet Caspian countries three months to provide convincing evidence they are taking measures to protect the world's last great population of sturgeon or face an international ban on caviar exports.

$20Bln Caspian Project Back on Track

After a bitter dispute that delayed the world's largest oil-field development project for more than a year, the government of Kazakhstan and the six-company consortium drilling the giant Kashagan deposit have reached an agreement in principle, according to senior Kazakh officials and Western oil executives.

Kazakhstan Rehires Indicted American

The government of Kazakhstan has rehired a man awaiting trial in a New York federal court on charges of funneling $60 million in kickbacks to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to Western oilmen and diplomats in Almaty.

A Humble Start for Rising Fortunes

The secret committee worked feverishly to draw up a new currency for a new country suffering from 2,000 percent inflation. In June 1993, the money was covertly printed in Britain and shipped here in anticipation of Kazakhstan's fateful decision to quit the ruble zone.

Russia Finds UN Ally in Beluga Controversy

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, announced Friday that stocks of beluga had risen from 9.3 million in 2001 to 11.6 million in 2002.

IMF Closes Kazakh 'Res Rep' Office

This month, the International Monetary Fund's representative in Almaty, the country's economic capital, ended a two-year assignment and was not to be replaced -- testimony to the Fund's faith that this former Soviet republic will not need to borrow money anytime soon.

First Kashagan Oil Not Seen Until 2007

The first commercial oil from Kashagan, the world's biggest oil field development, will come to market in 2007 -- two years later than planned.

An $85M Project to Revive the Aral Sea

  • 06 August 03
After nearly half a century of studying and deploring the drying up of the Aral Sea, one of the world's greatest environmental disasters, an international agency is building a dike to resuscitate part of the sea.

Kazakhs Crack Open Secrets of Caviar

With beluga caviar fetching $3,000 per kilogram in the West, lust for a cut of the cash has driven concerns of overfishing far from the minds of fisheries officials.

Bribery Scandal Old Hat in Almaty

A $60 million oil corruption scandal around President Nursultan Nazarbayev has shocked few in Kazakhstan.

A Trip to Abandoned Anthrax Island

Despite a long-standing desire to visit the Aral Sea's Vozrozhdeniye Island, I was aware that it was not, generally speaking, a desirable travel destination.

Ice Diving at the Top of the World

Ice diving is dangerous, expensive, complicated, unprofitable and uncomfortable, so why is a bright young Russian marine biologist devoting his life to pioneering it?

Falling for the World Under the White Sea

I first met ice diver Mikhail Safonov at the North Pole in 1999.

Chevron Pullout Might Spell Disaster for Astana

The indefinite suspension of the biggest construction project in the former Soviet Union throws into doubt Kazakhstan's attractiveness to foreign investors, bankers and oilmen in Almaty said.

Chevron Pulls Back In Tengiz

A consortium led by ChevronTexaco announced Thursday it will shelve a long-planned $3 billion expansion project for the Tengiz oil field on Kazakhstan's Caspian shore. The project had been slated to double production in three years.

Environmentalists Claim Victory in Caviar Clash

The muddy waters of the Ural River, which divides Europe and Asia, are the theater of a race against time to save a magnificent predator so old it predates even dinosaurs.

The Untold Success of Kazakh Summit

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, diplomats here agree, is alone among his Central Asian neighbors in devoting considerable energy to promote peace and stability in Asia.

A Flurry of Activity in Almaty

Russian and Kazakh diplomats were working feverishly to get the leaders of India and Pakistan to move back from the brink of nuclear war in the hours before a two-day summit Monday.

Wildlife Preserve Gets Torched

Fighting poachers in Russia is a dangerous business. But this year in the nature reserve of the Volga delta, the poachers took revenge in an unusual way: They set fire to it.

Square Pegs, Round Holes

The construction of a largely U.S.-funded oil pipeline from the Caspian to the Black Sea exposed Russians and Westerners to each other's separately evolved building methods.

Battling the Eager Bribe-Takers

Corruption in Russia takes place in the same way everything else takes place here: bureaucratically.

The Many Faces Of Issyk Kul

Kyrgyzstan is a potential gold mine for adventure-seeking trekkers. Christopher Pala spent a month on Lake Issyk Kul to take a closer look at the beauty of Central Asia.

Fish Farmer Says End of Caviar Ban Stinks

Alexander Kitanov is on the front lines of the battle to save the 200 million-year-old beluga sturgeon from disappearing, a victim of the tastiness of its own eggs.

Kazakh Bank Gets Record Loan

Kazakhstan's major bank on Thursday signed the largest syndicated loan in the country's 10-year history.

Nomads No More

Having grown from a poverty-stricken backwater to a foreign-investment magnet, Kazakhstan boasts high growth, low inflation and a stable economy that Russia can only envy.

CPC Cuts Ribbon on $2.6Bln Pipeline

Russian, U.S., Kazakh and Oman officials met near the port of Novorossiisk on Tuesday to officially open the pipeline that is to bring Kazakhstan's oil riches to the world.

The Crude Business Of Extracting Oil

Huge sulphur slabs are a testimony to the large amounts of oil already produced, but they are also a challenge staring in the face of those who operate the Tengiz field.