Gazprom, CNPC cir­cle Kazakh Oil Fields, Wik­iLeaks Shows

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

ALMATY: China Na­tional Petroleum Corp. and OAO Gazprom were ready to scoop up Kazakh oil as­sets in Jan­uary if ven­tures led by Eni SpA and BG Group Plc col­lapsed, a U.S. diplo­matic cable posted on Wik­iLeaks.org shows.

U.S. Am­bas­sador Richard E. Hoagland sent the cable on Jan. 25 af­ter a pri­vate din­ner with Mak­sat Ide­nov, then the first vice pres­i­dent of state-owned oil and gas pro­ducer KazMu­naiGaz Na­tional Co., at the Radisson Ho­tel in As­tana, Kaza­khstan's cap­i­tal, ac­cord­ing to the leaked doc­u­ment.

"Ide­nov al­leged that Gazprom and China Na­tional Petroleum Com­pany 'con­tinue to cir­cle like vul­tures,' hop­ing that the Kasha­gan and Karacha­ganak con­sor­tia will im­plode, and then they can pick up the pieces," Hoagland said in the cable. "'Won't hap­pen on my watch!' Ide­nov vowed."

KazMu­naiGaz in­creased its in­ter­est in Kasha­gan, the world's fifth-largest oil field, to 16.8 per­cent in 2008, equal to the stakes held by Eni, Exxon Mo­bil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and To­tal SA, af­ter cost over­runs and de­lays in the start of pro­duc­tion.

The govern­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of tax avoid­ance and il­le­gal oil pump­ing at Karacha­ganak, Kaza­khstan's only ma­jor oil project with­out state par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Rome-based Eni, Italy's largest oil and gas com­pany, is the lead part­ner in de­vel­op­ing the Kasha­gan field. Eni and Read­ing, Eng­land­based BG jointly over­see the Karacha­ganak project.

Eni asked for ques­tions to be sub­mit­ted to Rome­based spokesman Filippo Co­tal­ini, who didn't re­spond to e-mailed mes­sages. Neil Bur­rows, a spokesman for BG, didn't re­turn a call seek­ing com­ment.

Sergey Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Moscow­based Gazprom, Rus­sia's state-con­trolled gas ex­port mo­nop­oly, de­clined to com­ment on the cable.

Phones at CNPC's of­fice in Almaty, Kaza­khstan, weren't an­swered dur­ing work­ing hours yes­ter­day. Bei­jing-based CNPC is China's biggest oil com­pany.

Ide­nov, a 43-year-old for­mer re­gional vice pres­i­dent for Shell, re­signed from KazMu­naiGaz in May.

He led the 2008 talks that re­sulted in Eni and its part­ners pay­ing in­creased roy­al­ties from Kasha­gan and ced­ing shares in the project to KazMu­naiGaz. Calls to Ide­nov's mo­bile phone weren't an­swered.

Ga­lym Tum­abayev, a spokesman for KazMu­naiGaz in As­tana, de­clined to com­ment.

Wik­iLeaks, a non­profit group that re­leases in­for­ma­tion the govern­ment wants to keep con­fi­den­tial, has be­gun post­ing what it says are more than 250,000 U.S. State Depart­ment doc­u­ments writ­ten from De­cem­ber 1966 to Fe­bru­ary 2010.

State Depart­ment spokes­woman Ni­cole Thomp­son de­clined to con­firm any in­for­ma­tion in the doc­u­ments re­leased by Wik­iLeaks, say­ing it was the agency's pol­icy not to com­ment on spe­cific leaked ma­te­ri­als.

John Larsen, a spokesman at the U.S. em­bassy in As­tana, didn't re­spond to a mes­sage left at his of­fice.

The Hoagland cable was posted yes­ter­day on the web­site of the Lon­don­based Guardian, one of five news­pa­pers that re­ceived ad­vance ac­cess to doc­u­ments. -Bloomberg

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