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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhs Buy 8% Stake in Kashagan

LONDON -- Kazakhstan bought back part of the country's Kashagan field, the world's largest oilfield after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, seeking greater control over an industry that is key to the country's economic boom.

Kazmunaigaz, Kazakhstan's state-owned oil producer, agreed to buy an 8.33 percent stake in the $29 billion project from Eni and its partners, which include ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Kazmunaigaz said.

British BG Group on Wednesday said it agreed to sell its 16.67 percent stake in the offshore oil exploration project to its former partners for $1.8 billion.

"Kazmunaigaz will become the owner of a significant share in this large-scale oil and gas project," the company said in a statement posted Thursday on its web site. "The transaction will be completed in April."

Kazakhstan, the largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia, plans to have stakes in most of the country's new oil and gas fields to ensure greater control over investments.

The Kashagan field holds between 7 billion and 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, according to Kazmunaigaz. That's the equivalent of as much as 10 percent of the former Soviet Union's proven oil reserves.

Kazmunaigaz is examining plans to buy oil assets in Kazakhstan and abroad, KZ-Today reported, citing Zhakyp Marabayev, the general director of the company exploration unit.

Kazakhstan wants to know "from the inside," what the costs and investments are in the Eni-led project, Sauwat Mynbayev, a Kazakh deputy prime minister, said last month. Kashagan is being developed under an agreement that allows the operators to retain a share of the field's output to recover their investments.