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Oil from Kazakhstan’s Kashagan field exported for first time

MOSCOW: Kazakhstan’s vast offshore Kashagan oil field has produced its first crude for export, authorities in the ex-Soviet nation said Friday, in spite of many setbacks.

More than 26,000 tonnes of crude oil and 22.8 million cubic meters of natural gas have been produced and were shipped Friday through various pipelines, the Kazakh energy ministry said in a statement.

“The first batch of export oil was shipped today from Kashagan,” it said, adding that some testing is still ongoing.

“Reaching stable operation will take some time.”

The Kashagan field, located in the north of the Caspian Sea, is viewed as one of the largest oil discoveries of the past 40 years.

Authorities have said that production at the field will be launched officially at a ceremony on October 23.

Plagued with a number of problems including a failed launch over recurring gas leaks in 2013, the start of production at Kashagan comes amid plunging crude prices.

Kashagan’s operator, the North Caspian Operating Company, said Friday it was poised to “gradually increase production capacity to a target level of 370,000 barrels per day by the end of 2017.”

Energy companies Total, Eni, ExxonMobil, Shell and Kazakh state champion KazMunayGas, as well as Japanese firm Inpex and China’s CNPC, are involved in the Kashagan field project.

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