Oil production in Kazakhstan has fallen in the first days of April as the country continues to see mounting restrictions on its two export routes to international markets.
According to data from the country’s Energy Ministry, quoted by Kazakh industry channel Energy Monitor, total oil output was running between 20% and 25% below average production compared with the first days of March.
The data shows output running between 1.5 million and 1.57 million barrels per day on April 4 and 5.
Exports restrictions are costing about $43 million per day to a domestic oil production sector dominated by three major foreign-led developments, Tengiz, Kashagan and Karachaganak, according to estimates by Energy Monitor.
Kazakhstan Energy Minister Bolat Akchulakov issued a statement that the main export pipeline for Kazakh producers, operated by Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), is working at about 60% of its capacity.
Two out of three floating tanker loading buoys used by CPC near the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk were damaged during a severe storm two weeks ago and remain out of operation.
With CPC signalling that repairs at the damaged buoys are expected to last until the end of April, Kazakh producers are hoping to divert export shipments using the Atyrau–Samara link between Kazakhstan and the Russian trunkline system, operated by Transneft.
But Moscow news agency Interfax quoted Transneft as saying that its network was reaching capacity in the first days of April as the inflow of oil put into the system by Russian producers surpassed outflow at export points and domestic refineries, possibly as a result of US sanctions and a reluctance among international buyers to deal with Russian crude.
Transneft acknowledged that it had been unable to transit Kazakh oil that has been arriving into its network via the Atyrau–Samara link, to export destinations in the north-west and south of Russia, earlier this month, switching more of it to storage, according to Interfax.
Russian authorities have delayed the release of official oil production figures for March after reports said European buyers had been avoiding tankers with Russian oil because of international sanctions against the country and pressure from the public, concerned about continued Russian military aggression in Ukraine.
Interfax said that on 3 April Russian oil and condensate production was seen declining by just 4% to 10.58 million barrels per day against the March average.
In March, the International Energy Agency forecast that Russian oil exports could plummet by as much as 3 million barrels per day in the beginning of April.
Akchulakov dismissed suggestions emanating from Kazakhstan that CPC’s loading buoys may have sabotaged to restrict the flow of oil to the global energy market, saying that saw nothing in the nature of “political tricks” behind the decision to halt tanker loadings.
Industry reports in Kazakhstan said Russian authorities have asked Kazakhstan to consider joint investments in an upgrade of a transit pipeline that links the Russian city of Omsk to China via Kazakhstan.
The capacity of the link is estimated to be about 200,000 bpd but could be increased by between 10% and 15% using flow additives, reports suggested, and could be doubled with the installation of an additional pumping facility.
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