TBY talks to Jean-Luc Porcheron, Managing Director of Total, on realizing the country’s energy potential, Kazakhstan as a global energy provider, and opportunities for foreign investment.
TBY Total has been active in Kazakhstan since 1993. How would you describe the company’s contribution to the realization of the country’s full energy potential?
JEAN-LUC PORCHERON We have mainly been involved in the Kashagan project through the North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement (NCSPSA), which includes not only the Kashagan field, but also other fields around it as well in the offshore Caspian. We are one of the main shareholders in this project alongside KazMunayGaz, and other companies. We aim also at conducting exploration activities in Kazakhstan, but we have not been able to achieve our objectives so far. Total has a very large amount of experience in the offshore oil and gas industry. We are bringing this expertise into the Kashagan project as a member of the NCSPSA. We are particularly involved in the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), the operating company piloting the development of the Kashagan field. It is a complex organization because it is a very multifaceted project. There are many companies involved in the construction of the project, but there is a company in charge of the general operatorship of the project, and Total is highly involved in this company [NCOC]. As an investor, we try to bring in our experience in offshore developments every time we have the opportunity. This is especially essential in Kazakhstan, where a lot of projects are developed in extreme conditions. Total also has experience in exploration sciences, an expertise we are planning to bring to the country more and more. There is still potential for exploration in Kazakhstan, both offshore and onshore. Kazakhstan also has a fairly well-educated workforce, and we have not encountered too many difficulties in finding top candidates to hire. It is also our policy to educate the local workforce promoted by the Kazakhstani national education system. This is favorable for us as we can then rely on the local workforce for our operations.
How do you see the future of Kazakhstan as an energy provider to Western and Eastern markets?
Kazakhstan has huge resources, consisting mainly of oil, but with considerable levels of gas, too. Of course, Kazakhstan is a landlocked country, but it is well connected with a pipeline network system to Russia and China, and in the future to Europe. It already exports to Europe via rail, and it is well positioned to supply energy markets, particularly China. If significant gas discoveries are made, China will become an even bigger market for Kazakhstan.
In which energy sector areas do you see opportunities for foreign investors?
The oil and gas industry itself provides a lot of opportunities, but I think in my view a particular area that should be developed is new energy sources. Companies such as Total are diversifying to the point where they can be considered energy companies, rather than simply oil and gas companies. In this country there is the potential for solar, wind, and biomass energy production. There is a lot to do in terms of clean energies to diversify away from the oil and gas, or clean coal technologies. These green industries are not implemented yet, but they represent good opportunities.
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