ECONOMY


KAZAKHSTAN SEEKS CASPIAN OIL CARTEL

The nations surrounding the Caspian Sea should create an OPEC-like oil cartel to help support global prices and reassure OPEC itself, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said in interviews published on Sunday.

Former Soviet Caspian states Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are not OPEC members, and their giant energy reserves are being developed by international majors such as ChevronTexaco Corp. , BP Plc , Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Total .

Iran, which also has a Caspian coastline, is already an OPEC member.

"Global experts consider the nervousness of Arab countries and all of OPEC's comes not only from the massiveness of the Caspian reserves, but also because the region's states do not enter OPEC," said Nazarbayev in an interview with the Interfax news agency and Russia's Izvestia daily.

"Therefore I have suggested to the Caspian states that we establish our own organization in advance," he said.

Kazakhstan has staked its economy on developing extensive oil reserves such as the Kashagan field, the biggest new oil find in the last 30 years, and has attracted more than $20 billion in foreign investment since the fall of communism. Nazarbayev said the nation needed more foreign investment. "It is completely obvious that to obtain the output targets that our country is planning, we cannot do without investment and the participation of foreign capital. Among our partners we would like to see, in the first place, Russian businessmen."

"We are already holding active consultations with LUKOIL ," he said, referring to the Russian oil giant. "We are open to cooperation with others."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to visit Kazakhstan for talks with Nazarbayev in January.

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