Russia's Lukoil has secured a partnership in another exploration and development project in Kazakhstan's Caspian Sea waters, as the privately held company continues to eye Kazakh assets once offered to international oil majors.

Speaking in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan this week, Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov said his company signed a binding agreement with state-run oil and gas player KazMunayGaz that provides a framework for the chief terms of their joint partnership in the Kalamkas-more project.

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The Kalamkas-more block lies in shallow waters in the northern Caspian Sea and holds estimated in-place reserves of over 2 billion barrels of oil. A discovery well was drilled on the acreage in 2002.

The tract was originally identified as a development target for an international consortium operating the nearby Kashagan field, which has been described as the country’s largest offshore asset.

Kalamkas-more was later split from the Kashagan licence area and offered to a Shell-led consortium.

According to Alekperov, Lukoil has also closed an earlier deal with KazMunayGaz to buy a stake of almost 50% in the Al-Farabi asset, which also lies in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea.

Al-Farabi, previously known under the abbreviation IP2, spans about 6000 square kilometres, between 100 and 130 kilometres offshore.

Lukoil has signed three offshore exploration joint ventures with KazMunaygaz in recent yerars.

The Russian company already holds 50% stakes in the Zhenis and Khvalynskoye blocks and a 25% shareholding in the Tsentralny block.

Lukoil also has a stake of almost 13% in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which is a main export pipeline route for internationally-owned development projects in Kazakhstan and has an export capacity of over 1.6 million barrels per day of crude.

The Russian producer is also a minority stakeholder in two large foreign-led onshore oil and gas producing projects in Kazakhstan — Karachaganak and Tengiz.

Azeri expansion

In October, Lukoil said it had earmarked $2.25 billion in a bid to increase its shareholding in another Caspian development, the BP-operated Shah Deniz gas project offshore Azerbaijan.

The payment is for the 15.5% interest held by Malaysia's Petronas in Shah Deniz and would increase Lukoil's stake in the project to 25.5% from its current stake 10%.

According to Alekperov, Lukoil is in talks with other Shah Denis consortium members to waive their rights to buy the Petronas’ shareholding.

The existing Shah Deniz production capacity at Shah Deniz is over 58 million cubic metres per day of gas, or more than 21 billion cubic metres per year, according to BP.