Two of Kazakhstan’s top oil magnates have agreed to buy what amounts to a 60% operating interest in the Dunga onshore heavy oil development in the Mangistau region in the west of the country, in a deal that seller TotalEnergies says is worth about $330 million.

The French supermajor described an agreement to sell its Kazakh affiliate, Total E&P Dunga, to locally-owned Oriental Sunrise, reportedly owned by Kazakh businessmen Bauyrzhan Bisembayev and Zhan Makatov.

A 60% stake in the Dunga development would give Oriental Sunrise a net production of approximately 7400 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

The Dunga field is described as the second largest producer in the Mangistau province, responsible for about 19% of the total oil output in the region.

The transaction is subject to the approval of the authorities of Kazakhstan and the waiver of the partners’ preemption rights, TotalEnergies said.

Other shareholders are Oman Oil and Portugal’s Partex Oil & Gas, the two original founders of the venture.

The pair reduced their 50% stakes in the project to 20% in 2002 to allow a farm-in by Denmark’s Maersk Oil, later acquired by TotalEnergies.

Ambitious duo

Oriental Sunrise was only founded on 17 November 2022, just 11 days before the announcement of the sale, with corporate registers indicating that Bisembayev and Makatov are the owners, according to Kazakh media.

Both businessmen are also shareholders in another Kazakh venture, Magnetic Oil, according to Vlast, a Kazakh newspaper.

Magnetic Oil was incorporated in December 2020, just before the firm signed a deal to acquire Kazakh assets from Romania’s OMV Petrom, a subsidiary of Austria’s OMV, gaining ownership of production licenses for four onshore fields also in the Mangistau region — Komsomolskoe, Aktas, Tasbulat and Turkmenoi — producing 6760 boepd at the time.

The Mangistau region boasts two Caspian ports — Aktau and Kuryk — where Kazakh authoritieswant to turn into key transit pointsfor exporting crude across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and onwards to international markets via Georgia and Turkey.

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