Kazakhstan has for the first time shipped Kashagan crude in the form of Siberian Light blend from the Russian port of Novorossiisk, the Kazakh state pipeline company has said, amid a surge in Siberian Light exports.
In a statement on its website, KazTransOil said Kashagan crude was loaded on to the New Amorgos tanker at Novorossiisk on February 28, "mixed" with Siberian Light. Poor weather at the Black Sea port had prevented earlier shipment.
The crude was transported from the Kashagan field through KazTransOil's pipeline to southern Russia and on to Novorossiisk using the Russian state's Transneft system "in the common flow of" low-sulfur Siberian Light, the statement said.
Siberian Light loadings in March are scheduled to reach a multi-year high of over 150,000 b/d.
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The start of production from the vast Kashagan field in October has already contributed to a surge in shipments of Kazakhstan's main export blend, CPC, which also comprises crudes such as Tengiz and Karachaganak and is lighter and less sulfurous than Siberian Light.
CPC has its own pipeline system across southern Russian from Kazakhstan and a different ownership from the Transneft system.
However the partners at Kashagan, which include the Kazakh state and China's CNPC, are able to choose their own export methods.
KazTransOil's statement noted that Kashagan crude had been shipped through the Transneft system before, but mixed in to less profitable Urals crude.
The statement said output from other Kazakh light oil fields could also be exported as Siberian Light, although it did not specify which fields.
One possible source of Kazakh light oil could be independent Nostrum Oil and Gas's Chinarevskoye field in the far northwest of the country.
Nostrum, which produced 16,000 b/d of liquids last year, plans to commission a new connection to the KazTransOil system in the second quarter of this year, and hopes to increase its output.
The Kashagan development had proved a major headache for the oil industry
, coming on stream a decade late, after a debacle in 2013 in which pipelines were found to be leaking. Development costs so far have exceeded $55 billion.
However it is now expected to lift Kazakh oil output after a period of stagnation, with production recently reaching 180,000 b/d.
Kazakhstan expects to increase its oil output by 3 million mt to 81 million mt, or roughly 1.63 million b/d, this year, despite its participation in an OPEC-led production cut due to expire at the end of June.
--Nick Coleman, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, email@example.com