Kazakhstan's first deputy prime minister expects OKIOC, a consortium exploring the giant offshore Kashagan oil deposit, to appoint a project operator within two weeks. Kashagan is seen as potentially the largest oil find in the world in the last 30 years, and could make the vast Central Asian nation of 15 million a leading world oil producer within the next 20 years. But development of the field is still years away, and the nine-member Offshore Kazakhstan International Oil Company
(OKIOC) has yet to name an operator for the project.
First Deputy Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov said he saw some progress on issue. "I believe the decision on the operator can be expected within the next 15 days," he said. He declined to speculate on which of the Western oil companies forming OKIOC might win the operatorship. "This is a matter for the shareholders," he said with a smile.
Another senior Kazakh official said last week that France's TotalFinaElf, which has publicly stated its wish to become operator, had a good chance as it planned to buy BP Amoco's 9.5 percent stake in OKIOC for some $400 million.
Total, which already owns 14.3 percent of the consortium, would then become its largest shareholder.
OKIOC unites Phillips Petroleum, Royal Dutch/Shell, BG plc, Agip, BP Amoco, TotalFinaElf, ExxonMobil, Statoil (STO)
and Japan's Inpex (I8U.F)
. - (Reuters)