Authorities in Kazakhstan have removed most blocks from a major offering of exploration and development licences scheduled to be auctioned online on 22 July.

According to Kazkahstan’s Energy Ministry, 23 prospective blocks will be no longer available in the auction as previously announced.

However, the ministry confirmed that bidders have an option to compete for remaining 17 licences.

The auction was launched in April after earlier tenders had attracted interest from mainly domestic petroleum investors looking for opportunities beyond the control of the country’s state owned oil and gas producer KazMunayGaz.

Nine out of the remaining 17 blocks on offer lie in the Mangistau region in Kazakhstan, a traditional oil province with developed supporting infrastructure but where the majority of currently producing assets have been already depleted.

According to Energy Monitor, a Kazakh social network channel for the energy industry, the assets in the region that are likely to be seen as the most attractive are the Tolkyn and Borankol oilfields.

Despite the depletion, both deposits may possess undiscovered upside in deeper layers, offering prospects considered attractive enough for investing in seismic and drilling to allow field life extension.

Other blocks to be tendered later in July, are located in the Karaganda and Atyrau region, but neither have confirmed hydrocarbon reserves.

Though oil that is produced in the Mangistau region, is currently being shipped to international markets via the so called Atyrau–Samara interconnection between the trunkline networks of Russia and Kazakhstan, producers in the Mangistau region may consider an alternative shipping option for longer term output.

Following disruptions in operations in the Russian segment of Caspian Pipeline Consortium this year, Kazakh authorities have ordered urgent studies to consider the expansion of the Caspian port of Aktau in the Mangistau region.

The stated objective of this would be to accommodate a higher volume of cross-Caspian tanker shipments to a receiving terminal near Baku in Azerbaijan.

In Baku, Kazakh oil can enter the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan trunkline system that can deliver shipments to a major Mediterranean export port in Turkey.

According to reports in Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan, the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan has been operating at about 50% of a capacity described by one of the pipeline project’s stakeholders, UK supermajor BP, as about 1.2 million barrels per day.

According to BP, the route has already been used to transport some volume of oil from US Chevron-led Tengiz development in Kazakhstan.

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