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Kazakhstan oil: history and development prospects

09 September 2013


U.T. Akhmetova


West Kazakhstan State University named after M.Utemisov

Republic of Kazakhstan, Uralsk

Article is devoted to the history of studying of oil riches and development of oilfields of Kazakhstan. In work the priority directions of further development of oilfields of Kazakhstan are also shown.


Nowadays a basis of economy of Kazakhstan is oil and gas extraction industry which has developed at the beginning of the XX century. Kazakhstan is one of the largest countries in the world on stocks of hydro carbonic raw materials. In Kazakhstan 3% of world reserves of oil is concentrated.

The history of development of oil and gas extraction branch of economy of Kazakhstan is connected with development of the oil field of Ural-Emby pool. The pool occupies the square more than 500 thousand sq.km and administratively covers Atyrau, West Kazakhstan and Aktobe region of the Western Kazakhstan, and also adjacent territories of Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov region and the Republic of Kalmykia of the Russian Federation.

In the XVIII century it was known that the Western Kazakhstan was rich with minerals. The first scientific expedition on studying of natural resources of Kazakhstan was carried out in 1768-1774 by the made plan of M.V. Lomonosov. The members of this expedition were such researchers of the nature as I.I. Lepekhin, S.G. Gmelin, I.P. Falk, I.I. Georgy and others. Having studied territories between the rivers Volga and Ural they prepared some data on a geological structure of the Northern Caspian Sea. Later in 1820-1840 the continued researches by E.V. Ewersman,  G.S. Karelin,  A.G. Gumbold, M.I. Ivanin and others proved the existence of oil and gas in subsoil of the Northern Caspian Sea. [1, p. 12]. However the concrete data on oil-and-gas content of the Ural-Emby pool was generalized by the geographer, the member of Russian geographical society N.A. Severtsev. The materials were published in 1860 in the report «The geological supervision  made by N. Severtsev and I. Borschev in the western part of Kirghiz  steppe in 1857». The geological committee, having made a brief summary of materials of scientists, who have already investigated the Western Kazakhstan in 1874, sends the mountain engineer D.V. Kirpichnikov. Having surveyed regions of future oilfields Karachungul, Imankara and Dossor he came to a conclusion that in Dossor there is a big concentration of oil [2, p. 112]. However D.V. Kirpichnikov noted that exploration of the revealed stocks is at a loss due to lack of fresh water, the transport infrastructure, which connects the settlements and bad climatic conditions.

In 1846 the first signs of petroleum-bearing-capacity on Mangyshlak are established by M.I.Ivanin in a ravine by Burliu well. Common geological studying of Mangyshlak was begun at the end of the XIX century and from works of this period N.I. Andrusov's researches (1877) had the greatest value. In the territory of Mangyshlak  the presence of oil was found also by topographer G.A. Nasibyants ,who made a topographical survey of Karatau ridge in 1899-1902 [ 2, p. 113].

In 1890 in connection with the construction of Turkestan railway researches of the Volga-Ural Entre Rios renewed. In 1892 research group under the supervision of S.N. Nikitin studied the sites of  Dossor, Karachungul and Imankara oilfields, having carried out researches to depth of 7-9 meters. Later in 1899 a new expedition was sent to Kazakhstan. The members of it were military engineer V.K. Feldt, the engineer S.V. Trubetskoy, and also the son of well-known N.G. Chernyshevsky Mikhail who carried out a lot of work. By the results of the carried-out works M.N. Chernyshevsky wrote that at that time the richest oilfield was Karachungul. And at that time 6 well bores and 60 workers had been working at a site Karachungul oilfield. On November 18, 1899 from 40 meter depths of Karachungul oilfield the first oil in the territory of Kazakhstan was produced by fountain. Day to day on Karachungul oilfield  started to produce 12-25 tons [3].

However industrial oil production began since 1911 on Dossor oilfield. In 1913-1915 the industrial petroleum-bearing-capacity of Makat drift was established.

Despite the richest stocks, oil production developed extremely slowly in the Western Kazakhstan. During the period 1912-1917 oil production increased only from 16, 6 till 254, 8 thousand tons [1, p. 26]. Only after October revolution in 1917 in connection with the wide development of geological works and fast introduction of new geophysical methods and etc. oil production increased. All this led to that since 1931 old oilfields Dossor and Makat had been joined by new oilfields such as: Baychunas (1931), Iskine (1934), Koschagyl (1935), Sagiz (1938), Kulsury (1939), Koshkar (1944), Tentyaksor (1945), Munayli (1948), Tyulyus (1947-1948), Karaton (1949), Teren-Uzyak (1953-1956), Tazhigali (1953-1957), Karsak (1953-1958) and others [2, p. 114-116].  Except Guryev region (nowadays Atyrau region), oil production gradually extended on areas of Aktobe region where Shubar-Kuduk and Dzhaksy-Mai production fields appeared. In 1955 in Guryev region a new oilfield – Teren-Uzyak was explorated; in 1956 not far from Karaton a new Koshkimbetsk oilfield was opened; in 1966 Kara-Tyube oilfield was opened. In 1959-1960 in near edge zone of Precaspian depression Kenkiyak and Prorva oilfields with large reserves of oil had been opened. Since the beginning of the 1960th oil production began in the territory of Mangistau region of Kazakhstan. In 1961 oil production began on a huge Zhetybay oilfield; in 1966 Uzen oilfield gave the first industrial oil. Later in the south of Mangyshlak two more fields were opened: Tenginsky and Tasbulatsky [2, p. 126-128; 131; 134].

Thus, operation of Ural-Emby oil-and-gas pool began since 1899 with Karachungul oilfield located in the territory of present Atyrau region of Kazakhstan. Gradual development of methods of geological researches and engineering development in the subsequent led to the discovering of a set of oilfields in the territory of Atyrau, Aktobe and Mangistau regions of Kazakhstan.

Now in the territory of Kazakhstan there are more than 170 oil and more than 40condensate fields with discovered extractable reserves of oil and condensate in 2, 9 billion tons. Oil production is being carried out in the following 7 regions of Kazakhstan: Atyrau, Mangistau, West Kazakhstan, Aktobe, South Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda, Karaganda. But the most part of stocks of oil is concentrated in the territory of Atyrau region.

Annually the volume of oil production and its export is increasing. For 2006-2010 oil production in Kazakhstan had grown from 54,3 up to 68,1 million tons; export from 47,9 up to 58,2 million tons. In 2010 Kazakhstan owned 12,4 % of all produced oil in the CIS [4, p. 36-37]. The increase of oil production and export of oil is connected with further development of old and maintaining in operation of new oilfields. According to the forecast in 2020 it is supposed to increase oil production up to 130 million tons [5, p. 40].

Kazakhstan plans to reach such volumes of production first of all at the expense of development of the petroliferous horizons of the Caspian shelf. Expected resources of oil, both on a land and on a shelf of the Caspian Sea, applying to the territory of Kazakhstan, are estimated 13 billion tons [6]. The largest oilfield on the Caspian shelf is Kashagan. At present a preparatory work for operation of this oilfield is being carried out.

Prospective growth of volumes of oil production by 2020 will allow to increase oil transportation on oil pipelines Atasu – Alashankou to China, on Uzen – Atyrau – Samara and to the Caspian petroleum pipeline consortium to Europe. One of the options of transportation of oil through Turkey to Europe is project Aktau – Baku – Ceyhan. Implementation of this project will allow to export the Kazakhstani oil bypassing the territory of the Russian Federation to Europe in a shorter way.


1.  A.K. Muktar  “History of Kazakh oil (till 1940)” – Almaty:  “Olke” publishing house. 2006. – page 224.

2. Sh. Esenov and others “Mineral resources of Kazakhstan”. / Sh.Esenov, D.  Kunayev, S. Mukhamedzhanov. – Alma-Ata: "Kazakhstan", 1968. – page 552.

3. A.K. Muktar  “ The first kazakh oil industry workers and Nobel brothers”. //Newspaper «Egemen Қазақстан». October 26, 2011.

4. “Fuel and energy complex of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. The statistical collection / Under the editorship of A.A.Smailova. – Astana, 2011. – page 138.

5. Petroleum//No. 3 (75) June, 2012.

6. A.U. Aitkulov “Problems of development of oil and gas fields of the Caspian shelf”. // Bulletin.Sh. Essenov Caspian state university of technology and engineering - №1(15) 2008.

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