Kazakhstan presses Gazprom for gas supply plans

Kazakhstan authorities are pressing Russian gas giant Gazprom to complete preliminary plans for cross-border pipelines to bring Russian natural gas to the Central Asian country, according a top Kazkah government official.

If built, the pipelines would target Kazkahstan’s east and north regions, enabling it to focus on exporting its own production from the country’s south and west to the lucrative Chinese market instead of investing billions of dollars in new regional distribution networks.

Speaking during a visit this week to the Severo-Kazakhstan region, Kazakh Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliyev said he expects Gazprom to present its proposals in July, with the plans outlining “optimal ways of bringing [Russian] gas to customers in these regions” and the price the company hopes to receive.

Earlier, Satkaliyev implied that the Russian gas price should take into account the “friendly relationship” between the two states.

The Kazakh government and Gazprom signed an agreement in March to follow up on earlier Russian proposals to export gas to Central Asia in an effort to help offset the loss of the European gas market following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early last year.

Kazakhstan expects Gazprom to build a network in the country’s north and east capable of handling up to 40 billion cubic metres per annum of gas, according to a presentation made by Satkaliyev during this week’s visit, as reported by Kazakh news agency Kazinform.

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Satkaliyev said the Kazakh government hopes Gazprom will consider linking the Russian gas transmission network to Kazakhstan’s existing Saryarka regional gas pipeline.

The Saryarka pipeline runs from the Kyzylorda region in southern Kazakhstan to the cities of Zheskazgan, Temirtau and Karaganda in the country’s northeast before ending at the Kazakh capital, Astana.

The Kazakh Energy Ministry also expects Gazprom to consider building another pipeline from the city of Barnaul in East Siberia to the cities of Semey, Pavlodar and Ust-Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazkahstan.

Earlier this year, Kazakh authorities stated that it was not economically viable to to extend the Saryarka line to the north of Astana until more gas was available from the Beyneu–Bozoy–Shymkent trunkline, which is fed by fields in the country’s south and west.

However, the Beyneu–Bozoy-Shymkent trunkline has already been running above its nameplate capacity recently, carrying output for onward shipment to China, reports in Astana suggested.

The shipments follow a 2018 agreement that called for Kazakhstan to double its gas supplies to China to 10 Bcm per annum, although the Kazkah government has so far not managed to meet its demands due to the growth of its own economy and increased domestic gas demand.

Kazakhstan’s gas exports to China actually fell to 4.6 Bcm in 2022 against 7.2 Bcm in 2021, according to Kazakh gas pipeline operator and producer Qazaqgaz, which earlier this year warned that the country may have to fully halt gas exports to China during the winter of 2023-2024 in order to meet domestic demand.