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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Caspian Well Spudded

ATYRAU, Kazakhstan -- The Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Company spudded its first Caspian shelf well Thursday, kicking off a project that will shape the future of the former Soviet state's key oil industry.

A drill mounted on the specially modified rig Sunkar at Kashagan, 75 kilometers from the Atyrau port, pierced the seabed at 11:30 a.m., bringing to fruition a project dogged by delay since its inception in 1993.

"As we approach the end of the millennium, we step into a new phase of this important project," said Kazakh Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev, who inaugurated the spudding.

"Hopefully, the third millennium will belong to the Caspian shelf."