Kazakhstan has unveiled a plan to reallocate or sell 107 exploration and development licences for oil and gas blocks, including 23 to be made available exclusively to a pair of state-run companies.

According to a Kazakhstan Energy Ministry notice placed earlier this week on the Gosreestr governmental website, which provides a platform for lease auctions, new owners are being sought for prospective tracts and already discovered oil and gas fields located both onshore and in the shallow waters of the Caspian Sea.

Some blocks will not be open to privately held domestic and foreign investors, however.

Authorities have called on state-controlled KazMunayGaz, the country’s fourth largest oil producer, and gas pipeline operator Qazaqgaz to review available geological information on 23 of the blocks and then enter into direct talks with the ministry to negotiate licence terms and exploration commitments.

Powerful newcomer

Qazaqgaz was formed last year to replace gas pipeline operator Kaztransgaz, which was split off from KazMunayGaz into an independently run entity earlier in 2021, and government authorities have urged the new company to expand its presence in the upstream sector.

According to Qazaqgaz, it already operates three gas deposits in Kazakhstan with total recoverable gas reserves of over 17 billion cubic metres.

The 23 blocks to be set aside include the Kalamkas-more and Khazar tracts, which cover more than 1700 square kilometres in Kazakhstan’s Caspian Sea waters.

Just last year, privately held Russian oil producer Lukoil was reported to be in talks with KazMunayGaz over joint exploration and development of the two blocks.

A discovery well was drilled in 2002 at the Kalamkas-more block, which holds estimated in-place reserves of more than 2 billion barrels of oil.

Kalamkas-more was originally identified as a next-development target for the international consortium that operates the nearby Kashagan field, the country’s largest offshore asset, but was later split off from the Kashagan licence area to be developed separately.

The offering also includes two large prospective tracts in the Mangistau region, Bolashak East and Bolashak West, parts of which extend into the coastal waters of the Caspian Sea.

Authorities will also invite Qazaqgaz to consider taking on seven Turgay Paleozoy blocks in the Kyzylorda region that were reported to have once been of interest to KazMunayGaz.

Feedback requested

Companies interested in the remaining 84 exploration blocks are expected to communicate their readiness to bid to enable the ministry to drop unwanted assets from the list.

Blocks deemed of interest will be offered in an online auction.

The assets are located in various regions of Kazakhstan, with some located adjacent to fields already operated by regional subsidiaries of KazMunayGaz or privately held local producers.