Kazakhstan's crude exports have been reduced significantly after two out of three single point marine loading buoys near the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk were taken out of action by heavy storms.

The damage created a bottleneck for the 1500-kilometre pipeline owned and operated by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC).

Kazakhstan’s energy ministry said oil production exported to international markets is likely to be down by an average 320,000 barrels per day in April while CPC works to repair the marine loading buoys.

In 2021, Kazakhstan's crude production averaged more than 1.7 million bpd.

On Tuesday, CPC published Russian satellite images to show the severity of the storm in the area of the three marine loading buoys, two of which were damaged.

Repairs may be hampered, however, by the reluctance of western companies to risk falling foul of sanctions imposed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, CPC reported that three foreign suppliers - Imodco, Bluewater and Gall Thomson Environmental – had refused to answer requests for the delivery of replacement parts and hoses required to repair the loading buoys.

The Chevron-led Tengizchevroil joint venture accounted for about 31% of total output.

The next largest producer was North Caspian Operating Company, developer of the giant Kashagan offshore field in the North Caspian Sea, with 19%.

Another foreign-led producing venture, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, accounted for over 13% of the country’s oil and condensate production last year, according to the Energy Ministry.

Tengiz takes biggest hit

According to Reuters, Tengizchevroil reported a decline of 37% against normal daily production in the wake of the storm last weekend, with output falling to about 420,000 bpd.

Daily production at the Karachaganak project was down by about 11% at 250,000 barrels of oil and condensate, but production at Kashagan remained relatively stable at about 410,000 bpd.

However, Kashagan is scheduled for a maintenance shutdown in June, including offshore and onshore processing and injection facilities where hydrocarbons have to be treated to cope with the high hydrogen sulphide content.

Maintenance and sanctions issues

Maintenance of the single point marine loading buoys is overseen by Transneft-Service, a company reported to be a subsidiary of Russian state oil pipeline operator Transneft.

This Russian contractor replaced Holland's Smit Lamnalco as maintenance contractor for the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's marine export terminal in March 2021.

Smit Lamnalco is a subsidiary of Netherlands’ maritime services provider Royal Boskalis Westminster.

Earlier this month, the European Union imposed a set of sanctions on Transneft and its president Nikolay Tokarev.

In August 2021, Caspian Pipeline reported a minor oil spill at one of its loading buoys though the company had operated them safely for several years before that accident.

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