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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rosneft Inks $23Bln Kazakh Deal

APPutin applauding the agreement.
ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- The Russian and Kazakh state oil firms, Rosneft and KazMunaiGaz, signed a deal on Wednesday to invest $23 billion in a 55-year production sharing agreement for the Kurmangazy oilfield in the Caspian Sea.

Kazakh First Deputy Energy Minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov told reporters that recoverable oil reserves at Kurmangazy were estimated at 980 million tons, more than 7 billion barrels.

If confirmed Kurmangazy would prove to be one of the world's largest deposits and help Kazakhstan join the league of top oil producers as the country wants to triple production to over 3 million barrels per day by 2015.

Once under way, the project will be the fourth-biggest in Kazakhstan, after the onshore Tengiz and Karachaganak fields and the offshore Kashagan field, all led by Western majors such as U.S. major Chevron, Italy's ENI and Britain's BG.

Rosneft and Kazakhstan had disputed the terms of the Kurmangazy PSA for more than a year after Kazakhstan toughened rules on production-sharing agreements and raised oil taxes.

Izmukhambetov said the Kazakh state budget would receive more than $30 billion from the 50-50 PSA over the course of the project, which will include 10 years of exploration followed by 45 years of extraction.

Rosneft had wanted Kazakhstan to cut the bonus for the PSA to $5 million from $150 million, and the firm's chief executive, Sergei Bogdanchikov, told a news conference that Kazakhstan had agreed to accept $50 million from the Russian and Kazakh firms.

"We have committed to pay the bonus to Kazakhstan within a month. ... We will work under Kazakhstan's existing tax regime. Such was a decision and we are fully satisfied," he said.

The Kurmangazy field lies in what were disputed areas of the shallow Caspian Sea but which, along with two other fields, Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to develop jointly in 2003.

Kazakhstan had been in talks with France's Total on selling it half of its Kurmangazy stake. Total had expressed interest in the 25 percent stake but also expressed concern about the project's profitability under the new tax code.

Asked about talks with Total, KazMunaiGaz president Uzakbai Karabalin said: "We first have to sign a deal with the Russians. Talks with the French may follow later."

He also said the exploration period at Kurmangazy could be shortened to 6 years from the 10 years set out in the PSA, but declined to name possible annual production targets.

n Rosneft lost the rights to an oil field in the Russian section of the Caspian Sea after deciding that the site wasn't worth developing, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

Rosneft's Kaspoil unit was stripped of its permit to work at the Dmitrovsky field after failing to drill three wells and carry out seismic exploration as promised, the Natural Resources Ministry said. The Natural Resources Ministry regularly checks Russia's oilfields to ensure companies are developing them according to guidelines.

"Rosneft suggested this action," Rosneft spokesman Sergei Zakharov said in a telephone interview. "We had a list of ineffective assets; this field was on it."