21 Apr 2023 12:05

Kashagan operator NCOC appeals against $5.1 bln environmental claim

ASTANA. April 21 (Interfax) - North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), the operator of the Kashagan project, is appealing against the $5.1 billion claim filed by Kazakhstan's Ministry of Ecology, the Telegram channel Energy Monitor said on Friday.

According to Energy Monitor, NCOC disagrees with the reasons specified by the Ecology Department and requests cancellation of the ruling on the imposition of a preventive control and the ruling on the rectification of violations.

The NCOC representative said during the court hearings that the existing law does not allow the publication of an inspection report before the expiration of the appeal period. However, the Ecology Department for the Atyrau region did publish the inspection report before that time.

NCOC insists that the preventive control should only be imposed following an ascertained fact and the company is not aware of any documents that could be used as justification for a preventive control, according to the mass media outlet.

In March 2023, the Department of Ecology of the Atyrau region reported that the operator of the Kashagan field had committed a violation, namely the storage of over 1 million tonnes of sulfur at the site of the Bolashak Unit in excess of the authorized storage volume. According to the environmental authority, NCOC does not fully comply with its environmental program: waste effluent is discharged into the evaporation pond without being treated, and raw gas is flared without an environmental permit.

Last week, NCOC Managing Director Olivier Lazare said, when commenting on the claim that the Kazakh Ministry of Ecology filed against the company, that NCOC complies with most stringent environmental requirements in its operation.

Kashagan is Kazakhstan's first offshore oil and gas field in the Caspian Sea. It is the largest international investment project in the country. The Kashagan field's recoverable resources are estimated at 9-13 billion barrels of crude. Commercial operations at Kashagan began on November 1, 2016.

NCOC, the operator of the Kashagan project, is owned by KMG Kashagan B.V. with 16.877%, Shell (SPB: RDS.A) Kazakhstan Development B.V., Total EP Kazakhstan, Agip Caspian Sea B.V., and ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc. each with 16.807%; CNPC Kazakhstan B.V. with 8.333% and Inpex North Caspian Sea Ltd. with 7.563%.