The Chinese ramp up their efforts to find oil reserves in Kazakhstan

Special correspondent of the "News" department
A Chinese company to drill a set of 2-kilometer-deep wells in search of oil at a field it paid 146.6 times more than the starting price /Photo: Shutterstock, photo editor: Arthur Aleskerov

Zhongman Petroleum and Gas Group Corp. (ZPEC) said it is ready to drill two exploration wells in the Pribrezhnoe field in the Atyrau region 100 kilometers southwest of Kulsary. The company purchased the rights for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons at the field in July 2022, when Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy conducted an auction for the field. At the time, the Chinese company paid $3 million for the field, the starting price of which was $20,863. Some lots, like Shalva Severo Zapadnyi, for example, were bought at the starting price of $20,863. All in all, the government earned $47.9 million for 16 fields with the total starting price of $5.2 million.

On September 13, 2022, the company signed a contract for exploration and production on the field consisting of two blocks (73.9 and 16.7 square kilometers). According to a ZPEC representative in Aktau, the company will drill a 2,977-meter well in the third quarter and a 2,062-meter-deep well in Q4.

The construction of the first well, including preparation for drilling, drilling itself and testing, is going to last 457 days. The second well will be built during 392 days under the schedule.

According to ZPEC headquartered in Shanghai Free-Trade Zone, the Pribrezhnoe oil field was discovered in 1975. Over the period from 1975 to 1977, Soviet authorities drilled 15 exploration wells. Seven of them are currently sealed. In 1987, the field was added to the state balance with 33,997 million tons of С1+С2 oil and 6,799 million tons of extractable reserves.

ZPEC obtained a license for exploration at a field with a floor size of 18.5 square meters in 2020. In 2022, the company expanded its exploration operation to an area of 90.54 square meters. In 2023, Zhongman drilled three exploration wells which showed a positive industrial flow rate; this year ZPEC plans to drill more exploration wells to prepare itself for future oil production.

As a result, the aggregated reserves of the field might be expanded to more than 60 million tons. Zhongman said. The Chinese company also runs another oil and gas condensate field called Tenge in the Mangystau region, 8 kilometers away from the town of Zhanaozen.

Read also