Kazakhstan wants to export its oil bypassing Russia

(Nur-Sultan) The President of Kazakhstan on Thursday ordered his government to find new ways to export its oil without passing through Russia, following friction between the two neighboring countries over Ukraine.

Posted at 9:12

During a meeting of his government, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that establishing a new export route for Kazakh crude oil through the Caspian Sea has become a “priority”.

He also ordered his government to take “measures to increase capacity” of certain sections of a pipeline carrying oil to China, according to the Kazakh presidency.

The idea of ​​a trans-Caspian pipeline comes up regularly but never materialized as Russia doesn’t see the project in the best light.

Currently, about three-quarters of Kazakh oil is exported via a pipeline that leads to Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

But those exports have been halted twice since Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine began in late February, with many observers suspecting the Kremlin of wanting to pressure Kazakhstan, Russia’s traditional ally, for its neutrality in the conflict.

These disruptions in March and June were officially justified by storm damage and the risks associated with the presence of WWII mines.

This week saw almost a third disruption after a Russian court ordered a 30-day halt to oil supplies through the 1,500km pipeline, citing violations of environmental standards.

The consortium operating the pipeline has appealed, temporarily suspending the court decision, Kazakhstan’s energy minister said on Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “unlikely” that the Russian court’s decision was linked to political considerations, stressing the “need for additional contacts” with Kazakhstan.

Mr Tokayev also pledged this week to step up energy cooperation with the European Union as the latter seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

And last month, at an economic forum in St. Petersburg, the Kazakh president raised eyebrows by implying he would not recognize pro-Russian separatist entities in Ukraine as states.

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