12 Mar 2024 13:07

Kazakh oil producer Buzachi Neft fined $1.1 mln for pollution at Karaturun East field

ALMATY. March 12 (Interfax) - Kazakh oil producer Buzachi Neft faces penalties exceeding 500 million tenge or $1.1 million at the current rate for exceeding atmospheric pollution levels after the Karaturun East incident, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Zhomart Aliyev said.

"There was an accident at the field. I want to clarify that there was no release of pure methane; rather, combustion byproducts were involved. The Mangistau Region Department of Ecology took measurements, revealing elevated levels of certain pollutants. An unscheduled inspection of this well was conducted, leading to the company being fined. The fine exceeds 500 million tenge," Aliyev said at a government briefing.

Aliyev said it would not be entirely accurate to say the accident led to the release of pure methane.

"Methane is a poisonous gas. Certain media outlets have questioned whether a large volume of methane was released into the atmosphere. When the accident happened, the gas was flared following safety protocols," the deputy minister said.

On June 9, a gas-water mixture blowout occurred during the lifting of the drilling tool, igniting well No. 303 at Karaturun East and creating a crater hindering firefighting efforts. The fire took until December to finally extinguish.

The fire sparked environmental concerns, with French scientists from Kayrros SAS detecting methane clouds via satellite over the burning site, estimating emissions at 35 to 107 tonnes per hour. Buzachi Neft, however, countered that the satellite images likely depicted clouds of hot vapor with minimal greenhouse gases. They asserted that the burning mixture, primarily water, contained insignificant methane, which burns without harming the environment at high temperatures reaching 650 degrees Celsius at the epicenter. The Kazakh Ecology Ministry echoed this, assuring the public there were no risks.

Buzachi Neft LLP is an independent company engaged in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas. The company operates the Karaturun group of fields. The East Karaturun oil and gas field is located in the northwest part of the Buzachi peninsula in the Mangistau region.