Natural resources, energy and environment
Kazakhstan has extensive assets of oil,
natural gas and minerals. In the mines, for example,
chromium, copper, gold and uranium are mined. The
country is riddled with enormous environmental problems,
a legacy of the Soviet era (1920-1991). Desiccation of
the Aral Sea is considered one of the world's largest
The oil deposits are still only partially utilized.
Some recovery began during the Soviet era, but it
declined after independence. From the mid-1990s, foreign
investment began to reach the country and production
gradually picked up. Both oil and gas recovery increased
sharply after the turn of the millennium.
Major exports by Kazakhstan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Large foreign interests are involved in the
exploitation. The state-owned company Kazmunaigas also
Most of the oil and gas are in a few large fields.
The first thing that attracted foreign investment was
Tengiz's northeast of the Caspian Sea. From the Tengiz
field, a 150-mile-long oil pipeline goes west over
Russian territory to a port on the Black Sea. When the
management was inaugurated in 2001, it meant a
breakthrough for Kazakhstan as an oil exporter. Another
large field is Karatjaganak in northwestern Kazakhstan,
where there are large quantities of both oil and gas.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, KGF stands for Kazakhstan.
Easily accessible oil
Kazakhstan's hopes of becoming one of the world's
largest oil producers are mainly linked to the Kasjagan
field, which was discovered in 2000 under the Caspian
Sea. Kashagan is estimated to be the largest oil field
in the world outside the Middle East. However, it has
proved difficult to exploit. The oil is in pockets deep
below the sea surface and large amounts of hydrogen
sulphide make the work dangerous. Kazakh authorities and
the international consortium are running the
exploitation have had conflicts over the terms of cost,
security and environmental impact. Production was
initially planned to start in 2005, but only in
September 2013 was an attempt to start extraction. It
had to be canceled after only a few weeks due to a gas
leak and the recovery did not start again until 2016.
In 1997, Kazakhstan signed an agreement with China
that was granted the right to extract oil and natural
gas in the western and northern parts of the country.
The mineral resources include chromium, copper, gold,
iron, lead, zinc and tungsten. Uranium deposits are
estimated to account for almost one-fifth of the world's
reserves and in 2009 Kazakhstan became the world-leading
exporter of uranium. Furthermore, the country has plenty
of rare earth metals, which are in demand by the
electronics industry. Western companies have invested in
Kazakhstan also has huge assets of coal. Large
quantities of coal are transported by rail to industries
in Russia. Coal power plants account for just over 70
percent of electricity generation, while natural gas and
hydroelectric power account for the rest. Hydropower is
mainly extracted from the Irtysh River. Despite its own
fossil fuels, Kazakhstan has at times had serious
feelings of energy shortages.
The environmental disaster with Lake Aral
The disaster with the Aral Sea (see also Geography
and Climate) was caused by a decision that the Soviet
Union would become self-sufficient in cotton. Huge crops
were planted in desert areas and to irrigate them, water
was diverted from the two large rivers that flow into
the Aral Sea, Syria-Darja and Amu-Darja. The lake soon
began to shrink. According to estimates, in 2007 only
one tenth of Aral remained, which was also divided into
four or five smaller lakes with ever higher salinity.
From the dry seabed, the winds disperse finely
divided salt, mixed with insect poisons from the cotton
crops, over surrounding areas. From there comes reports
of serious health problems among the population.
However, an attempt to save the northern "small" Aral
Sea, the part located in Kazakhstan, has produced
results. The lake, with money from the World Bank, has
been shielded by a mile-long dam. This has contributed
to a larger water surface, reduced salinity, increased
fish quantity and new economic opportunities. The flow
in Syr-Darja, which flows into Lilla Aral, has also
increased thanks to better irrigation technology.
However, the southern parts of the lake, which is mainly
located in Uzbekistan, have continued to shrink. Only a
fraction of the original water surface remains.
Explosions of nuclear weapons
In the Semipalatinsk area in the northeast, nuclear
weapons explosions were conducted from 1949 to 1989.
Until 1963, nuclear charges were blasted off the ground,
initially without the most elementary protection of the
population in the area. Knowledge of the long-term
effects of radiation is inadequate. Uncertainty is
increasing the psychological pressure on the residents
of Semipalatinsk (or Semey, as the city is now called).
Around one million people are estimated to have been
damaged by the test blasts.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
4,434 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
5600 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
248 315 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
14.4 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
1.6 percent (2015)
The opposition goes together
The two opposition parties Azat and NSDP merge and now call themselves
Azat-NSDP. They also claim to have invited Alga and the
Communist Party, which however declined.
Big deals with France
French President Nicolas Sarkozy visits Kazakhstan and signs energy and
business deals worth $ 6 billion.
MR activist is sentenced to death
Human rights activist Yevgeny Zhivti is convicted of a car accident.
According to several human rights groups, Zhovotis has not received a fair
Freedom of expression is restricted
A law is adopted that involves stricter monitoring of chat forums and blogs.
The law means that one can be folded to express certain views in channels that
are considered mass media.