Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce in the USA


Astana Invest 2010 1

Posted on May 19, 2010 by Sergey Sek

We invite you to participate in the First International Investment Forum “Astana Invest 2010”, which will be held on June 7, 2010 in Astana.


Astana Invest 2010 Forum is organised by Akimat of Astana city and with the active support and direct participation of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Astana Invest 2010 Forum is aimed at improving the investment climate and further stimulates the flow of domestic and foreign investment in the city’s economy, the formation and promotion of Brand Astana to the world markets in the strategy of joining the Republic of Kazakhstan in the top 50 most competitive countries in the world.

For participation at the Astana Invest 2010 Forum we invited to attend representatives of central and local executive bodies, national companies, development institutions, foreign companies, financial institutions, large and medium business capital.

Potential investors will be offered a unique opportunity to discuss specific investment projects and to obtain the latest information on investment projects in the Astana city.

There will also be presentations of projects using public-private partnerships, various projects for industrial, construction and infrastructure areas of the Astana.

I look forward to seeing you at the Astana Invest 2010 Forum – the event of the year for networking, in-depth analysis and up-to-the-minute information.



Imangali Tasmagambetov
Mayor of Astana City

III Astana Economic Forum 0

Posted on April 28, 2010 by Sergey Sek

The III Astana Economic Forum will be held in July 1-2,  2010 in Astana city and dedicated to the issues of ensuring sustainable economic growth in the post-crisis period.

The third economic forum will bring together over 2000 representatives from political and business area from more than 50 countries of the world this year, and also the leading scientists, representatives of the public and mass media to discuss the key subjects of the global economy development.

The two-day event program is dedicated to the issues of innovation, business, industry, international trade, export and import, customs union, energy, ecology, international financial and currency systems, Islamic financing and youth development. Within the frames of the Forum the exhibition of scientific works and innovative projects, competitions for the best research works and two events with the participation of the international organizations concerning the issues of the role of information and communication technologies and development of “green” economy will take place.

Contact information: 
Tel.: + 7 7172 70 18 32 
Fax: +7 7172 70 18 35 
E-mail: forum@aef.kz 
Skype ID: aef2010

Central Asia Mining Congress 0

Posted on April 27, 2010 by Sergey Sek

The new mining investment landscape – Where are the opportunities in Central Asia’s mining sector?
Central Asia Mining Congress is back for its third year as the only mining focused investment platform that congregates the major stakeholders in the region’s mining sector, covering all key countries in the Eurasia region including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Mongolia.

With the global economy on its road to recovery and investors’ appetite returning, there has never been a better time for companies to seek out profitable mining assets in the region. In close proximity to China and India, Central Asia is a strategic hotspot where the needs of the world’s largest commodity buyers are met.

Do not miss this chance to gain access to a large gathering of major and junior miners, private and institutional investors, fund managers, financiers and policy regulators who have a stake in the region’s mining sector. With an impressive lineup of speakers in 2010 and a proven successful track record, Central Asia Mining Congress is the place you need to be at to secure new mining partnership and investment deals.

Please contact Marife Austria Agrimano for special discount for KazCham members and partners.

It’s time to change the oil-Borate image of Kazakhstan in America 2

Posted on April 26, 2010 by KazCham

United States has been successful trade and economic partner for the countries of Central Asia for many years. However, this partnership was limited mostly to work of U.S. energy companies upon requests of Washington to hand in the operations of coalition forces in Afghanistan. From the other side, it’s extremely difficult to enter the US market for the Central Asian States due to many obstacles.

It’s symbolic that the first country of Central Asia, which opened a representative office of its Chamber of Commerce in the United States (New York City), was Kazakhstan. The head of the representation, Yuliya Daurova, is going to tell about main activities of the chamber and how it is going to revive the Kazakh-American business cooperation.

According to Yuliya Daurova, ROI in Kazakhstan reaches 150%.

– Promotion of the political interests of Kazakhstan has been doing actively for a long time. It includes the current chairmanship of the OSCE and the Organization of Islamic States the next year  – as vivid examples. What about intentions of foreign countries to develop the business and economic cooperation with Kazakhstan? And how can Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce promote that?

– During the crisis, the interest of American companies to developing promising markets increased. It includes Kazakhstan. The introduction of industrial-innovative strategy by the Government of Kazakhstan has intensified the interest of investment companies and banks in the United States to the country. Thus, major part of requests in our representative office comes from them.

For example, one of the largest U.S. private equity companies believes that its best investment over the past 10 years was a project in Kazakhstan, where the internal rate of return of these investments amounted to 150%, which is a high rate. However, many U.S. companies just want to know more about the economic situation in our country, since they are still afraid of the political and financial risks. Yes, U.S. companies now show interest in Kazakhstan, for example in the agricultural sector and the chemical production, but in my opinion, they are still very cautious.

Thus, we plan to hold regular seminars and conferences which are tailored to target audiences in individual sectors on issues of doing business in Kazakhstan. Seminars are supported by Grata Law Firm (New York), auditing company PricewaterhouseCoopers Kazakhstan, Broad Street Capital Group and, of course, the Embassy and the Consulate of Kazakhstan in the United States.

We have already launched social networks marketing and plan to hold a series of activities to promote the business image of our country in America, because we are often told that  it is very difficult to learn about Kazakhstan. So, we’ll try to change this attitude.

I want to stress once again that there is the interest – both by U.S. companies and by Kazakhstan firms – to conduct joint business. Basically, it’s about joint ventures and export-import operations. But it’s very difficult to contact the right people in Kazakhstan for American companies. They do not know how to do this and fall into an information vacuum.

Our embassy in Washington has been working on this problem over years, but it is over workloaded. So, we hope to become the “business bridge” between our two countries and to provide operational information about projects, legislation and investment climate in Kazakhstan.

– United States companies have been actively working in the republic in the energy industry since Kazakhstan proclamation of independence. What do they do now in this area? And what is the approximate ratio of involvement of U.S. businesses in other areas to oil production involvement in Kazakhstan?

– The United States have invested in Kazakhstan’s economy 14.3 billion (from 1993), mostly in oil and gas industry and commensurate services. Now, U.S. exports to Kazakhstan has fallen to 2005 levels and totaled $ 600 million in 2009, although there was a time when it reached a billion. It includes 40% for equipment for the oil industry, 25% for transportation equipment, and the rest for computers, telecommunications, electronics and chemical industries.

Despite the fact that today some American agriculture, medical equipment, and educational firms are very interested in Kazakhstan market, it seems to me that the current ratio of investment into O&G complex comparing to other areas will not change. Probably, it’ll be the same 65% of U.S. investments on oil, gas and associated transport lines development.

– Do you think that the image of “business background” of Kazakhstan in America has been changed compared to the times when the cooperation just began? Do not you think that Americans, despite their nearly twenty-year presence in the country, are still very poorly informed about Kazakhstan and its real business potential?

– Kazakhstan, oil , Borat – that’s the image of Kazakhstan for the majority of Americans, still. Many U.S. investors react vigorously with the word “oil” in relation to Kazakhstan, but they are still completely unaware of the fact that Kazakhstan is, for example, one of the world’s largest exporter of copper, uranium and grain.

When you tell them that, it is a real discovery. Therefore, the change of country’s image will take a lot of work. I need result as follows: the word “copper” should be associated with the company “Kazakhmys”, aluminum with ENRC and so on.

So far, the general business relations between the United States and Kazakhstan has not been changed. Oil is still in the first place. The Kazakh exports to the U.S. for the crisis year declined only  by $ 65 million and amounted to 1,545 billion dollars. Of course, that was mostly oil. Everything else is mainly ores and metals.

– Energy and its development is the priority area for the United States regarding the cooperation with Kazakhstan. But today Kazakhstan needs money for the development of agriculture, small business and transport industries from U. S. What has been done to bring U.S. companies of non-energy sector to Kazakhstan over the years?

– You know, this is a difficult question. Judging by the fact that most American companies which come to us are investment companies, they are, in principle, interested in launching projects in Kazakhstan. However, the U.S. firms are interested in public-private partnership or joint ventures with local partners. U.S. investors need sound guarantees to work in Kazakhstan.

As I see, American companies usually submit projects to Kazakhstan ministries, and then hope to get any response over the years. I think that if U.S. investors were more knowledgeable about our country, they would contact partner companies directly, and it would certainly accelerate the process. But today American companies get into the information vacuum.

– What are the interests of Kazakhstani business in America? And how representation of your Chamber of Commerce can help Kazakh businessmen to work in the U.S. market?

– Officially our Kazakhstani business in the United States represented by only one company – Wimpex (vodka). However, our oil companies have strong business ties with our American partners, they have their kind of rep. offices, plus Astana airlines reside in New Jersey.

I have met several private investors from Kazakhstan in America. For example, a Kazakh young man opened a glass factory and resold it then. There is a company owned by one beautiful Kazakh lady, which deals with the import of caviar from Kazakhstan to the United States. Our young guys here opened an advertising agency, created a design studio and a model agency.

If we talk about the prospects of Kazakhstan’s business in the United States, there are great opportunities to work with mining companies and grain producers. In America, there are potential buyers of Kazakh uranium, gold and grain. I mean there is a potential for mutual cooperation.

And I think that it exists for small businesses from Kazakhstan too. For example, in such a huge city like New York, there is no a Kazakh restaurant while there are about 10 thousand Kazakhs living here plus two million Russian-speakers. Add here a very active go-out population of other nations, it’ll be approximately 10 million of inhabitants. Here you have an opportunity for our Alasha or Tubeteika.

With specific regard to our work, we are ready to help in finding partners, customers, and co-financing in the United States. Also, we help with registration, immigration and other issues.  So, if you have a good business proposal and a partial funding, it is possible to organize the Kazakhstani business here in the United States.

– What, in your opinion, are the main problems which have prevented the Kazakhstan and American entrepreneurs to interact so far? Is there only problem of the lack of adequate information about each other, or it is more mentality, lifestyle, cultural differences?

– In general, people face several problems: the absence of proper information, the different languages, and the distances between the countries. On the other hand, Chinese and Russian companies work successfully in the United States regardless these problems. Some of them even do not speak English at all and work here for years.

I agree that it happens partly due to the differences in mentality. In my opinion, there are purely social and cultural aspects in the relations between the two countries. For example, the Kazakhs live patriarchal structure, derived from the ancient times, and it is much harder for them to adapt to specific American culture. Americans are, by nature, more open and assertive in their behavior, and it is easier to do business for them. The same dress code, for example, is pretty simple, but something may be unacceptable in the same clothing for Kazakhs. But since we talk about business and not well-established family relations which have thousands years of tradition, so, perhaps, there should be more flexible and less formal relations. Still the main constraint in enhancing the bilateral relations is the lack of timely and reliable information about each other.

– Given the fact that a centralized bureaucracy in the U.S. is extremely strong and it does not solve problems of small business operationally, isn’t it more profitable for you to contact senators of individual states in the country directly, since they are much more flexible in making decisions and will be more interested in helping US companies with investments and projects in Kazakhstan.

– Unfortunately, the bureaucracy stifles business development not only in the United States, but in Kazakhstan as well. Definitely the situation has improved with the arrival of young and dynamic vice-ministers in the Kazakh government, who are easier to reach. They are more open to contact and react more quickly to certain requests.

Yet, the situations with the bureaucratic obstacles remain severe. For example, government people there sent me approved scanned, signed and stamped answers on official forms to my email requests. Businessmen barely do that. They will email me back within 48 hours as usual.

There is also a significant difference in the affairs of government agencies of both countries. For example, in the United States a businessman will receive an answer for an request, sooner or later. It usually takes a couple of weeks, sometimes, two months. Still, the answer will there. Moreover, the higher the rank, to whom you are applying, the more assurance that you’ll get a prompt response in U.S. In Kazakhstan a businessman finds himself in the Bermuda Triangle.

As for senators of states and their interest in cooperation with Kazakhstan, you are absolutely right. We have already established connections with the state of Louisiana in the south of the USA; Nebraska – an agricultural state; Washington on the Pacific coast. We are now working to expand our business ties in California, and also plan to enter into agreements with local business associations in New York.

We are open and glad to various forms of bilateral cooperation, we actively try to help companies to enter and work in both markets and look forward to successful implementation of our plans to strengthen trade relations between the U.S. and Kazakhstan.

SOURCE: Delovaya nedelya Kazakhstana. Yuriy Sigov. 2 April 2010.

The Caspian corridor 0

Posted on April 25, 2010 by KazCham

AFTER SO MANY years of dependence on foreign  ! goodwill for the export of its oil, gas and mineral: the Kazakh government is insisting on a control stake in the new Kazakhstan Caspian Transport System (KCTS). This is designed to carry export pipelines south to a new port at Kuryk, south of Aktau, entirely through Kazakh territory.

New high-capacity pipelines within this corridq will run south for hundreds of kilometres from tilt giant, city-sized processing plant for Kashagan oil gas at Eskene, 30km north of the oil capital Atyrau, to a new port at Kuryk. From there oil and gas will be transported across the Caspian Sea to Baku. The new trunk pipelines running down the corridor will also be linked up to the many smaller fields being  developed either side of the route.

The oil companies, which are expected to foot  most of the bill for this multi-billion dollar project,  however, are still smarting from their loss of control  over the CPC pipeline through Russia, which they also financed and initially operated. As the main financiers and big future users of the KCTS, the international oil companies want to ensure that they retain as much  influence as possible over future managements.

A conclusion to months of hard bargaining between -government and the oil companies had not been  reached at time of writing, but a compromise deal is  expected shortly.

The main purpose of the KCTS is to ensure that  western Kazakhstan has the export capacity to cope  with the expected doubling of oil and gas production  when the Kashagan field comes on stream in four  years’ time. It will ensure that rising oil and gas  production from the country’s three biggest fields  – Kashagan, Karachaganak and Tengiz – as well as  dozens of smaller fields in western Kazakhstan will  flow down pipes, ports and railways under Kazakh  jurisdiction and not require transit payments to  foreign governments.

The KCTS will constitute a major strategic  resource for Kazakhstan, which used to be totally  dependent on transit through Russia to reach export  markets but is now rapidly developing into a major  transit country in its own right, with high-capacity  pipelines running 3,000km east to China and hopes  of developing further routes south through Iran –  international politics permitting.

The new corridor will not only carry Kazakh oil  and gas to Kuryk. It is also expected to accommodate  up to 30 billion cubic metres a year of gas flowing  north from Turkmenistan to Russia. But building  this northbound pipeline is conditional on  implementation of an agreement signed in 2007  between Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.  This was to enable Russia to raise gas imports from  Central Asia. But Moscow seems to be reviewing this  agreement in the light of a sharp decline in demand  for gas from Gazprom’s recession-hit domestic and  European consumers.

On past performance, the end result of current  negotiations between the Kazakh government and  oil companies over how the KCTS corridor is to be  managed is likely to be a compromise that leaves both sides reasonably satisfied. The expected benefits from  the new corridor are, after all, huge for all concerned.

From the Eskene processing plant, equivalent  in size to the city of Amsterdam, the corridor will  terminate at Kuryk, a sheltered, relatively deep-water  site chosen for the large new oil and gas export  facility. From there a fleet of oil tankers will ferry oil  some 700km across the Caspian Sea to new importing h facilities south of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijans

At some point in the future, gas may also be  transported under the Caspian in pipelines and  President Nazarbayev has also expressed his interest  in a possible liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility to  freeze natural gas and transport it in special LNG  ships across the Caspian to a de-freezing plant on the  Azeri shores.

Eskene, which is some 35km north of Atyrau,  will process oil from the offshore Kashagan field,  and three other smaller fields in the concession are  currently being developed by Exxon-Mobil.

The complex will start operating when the first  oil comes from Kashagan around the fourth quarter  of 2012. Production will then build up rapidly as  Kashagan alone is expected to produce some  1.5 million barrels a day before the end of the next  decade. The hot, corrosive oil which forces its way  to the surface from the Skm-deep deposits needs to  be stripped of deadly hydrogen sulphide and other  poisonous gases as well as foul-smelling mercaptans  and other pollutantss

These involuntary by-products of making the oil  and gas safe for transport will be used as feedstock for a proposed $6.5 billion petrochemical plant, which  the government is discussing with deep-pocketed  investors from the Gulf States.

Invest in Kazakhstan An official publication of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2009. Pages: 52-53.

Oil and gas developments head south 0

Posted on April 22, 2010 by KazCham

AS NEW FIELDS are developed in the northern Caspian  over the coming decades, they will be connected to  the main trunk lines running south through the  Kazakhstan Caspian Transportation System (KCTS)  corridor. All three of Kazakhstan’s giant fields lie in the prolific ‘Pricaspian basin’, which extends beyond  the Kazakh-Russian border to Astrakhan in the  west and Orenburg in the north-east. But the bulk  of future discoveries is expected from offshore oil and gas wells further down the Caspian Sea, where  seismic and other surveys have revealed hundreds of  potentially commercial deposits.

The biggest and most prospective of the southern  blocs is the ‘N’ block currently being developed by a  consortium led by KMG with Conoco-Phillips, which  owns 20 per cent of Russia’s Lukoil, as its main partner. It is still not clear how much oil or gas lies in the  ‘N’ block. Hopes are high for another Kashagan-type  giant field. But, even if some of the more optimistic  expectations prove to be just that, there is little doubt h that the hydrocarbon potential of the central part of  the Caspian Sea justifies the KCTS strategy.

Thanks to the new energy corridor, and future  investments in improved road and rail links with  China and across the Caspian Sea, formerly isolated  Aktau expects a bright future as the future transport hub and administrative centre of the Caspian oil  industry, with Kuryk, 100km south of Aktau, as the  main port for oil and gas exports across the Caspian. Current plans call for the construction of a fleet  of 60,000 dead weight tonnes (dwt) tankers capable  of carrying up to 20 million tonnes of oil a year  across the 700km stretch of sea between Kuryk and  Baku. This should be sufficient for several years. But  recent confirmation by independent UK-based oil and gas auditors Gaffney and Cline, that Turkmenistan  has world-class gas deposits both onshore near its  southern border with Afghanistan and offshore,  coupled with growing interest by some European  Union members in the Nabucco gas project, have  revived plans for a trans-Caspian gas pipeline under  the sea.

Further offshore gas discoveries in the Kazakh  sector of the Caspian, particularly in the ‘N’ block,  which many oilmen suspect has more gas than oil,  would further increase demand for such a line, or  alternatively, an LNG facility.

Four years ago, a US-backed project to build a  trans-Caspian pipeline from Turkmenistan to Baku  was scuppered by Russian pressure. But times have  changed. Russia remains a big player in the region  and Kazakh diplomacy never forgets this. But China  is the new factor in Central Asian energy demand,  while the EU is seeking to establish direct energy  links to Central Asia and reduce its dependence on  supplies from and through Russia.

Supporters of the EU’s Nabucco project say that  a pipeline through Turkey and the Balkans to the  heart of Central Europe would be able to attract  sufficient gas from Central Asian and Middle Eastern  gas suppliers to fill a 30 billion cubic metre (bcm)  pipeline to a new hub near Vienna. Sceptics argue  that for Nabucco to move forward, the EU collectively will have to put up money to underpin private  funding from its Central European supporters, which, in turn, will only be forthcoming once guaranteed  supplies of gas are signed up for by potential Middle  Eastern and Central Asian producers.

While EU countries continue this ‘chicken and  egg’ debate on the relative merits of Nabucco or the  two alternative projects proposed by Russia, China is  pressing ahead with construction of a 3,000km-long  gas pipeline from Turkmenistan, through Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan, to the Chinese border,  the first lObcm capacity stage of which is due for  completion later this year.

China has demonstrated that it is serious about  increasing energy and other imports from the region, but Germany and Italy, which have both renounced  nuclear power and are heavily dependent on gas and  other imports, remain supporters of Russia’s rival  plans for a Nordstream gas line under the Baltic Sea  to Germany, along with the Southstream proposal  for a gas line under the Black Sea from Russia to the  Balkans and beyond.

Both projects were conceived when oil and gas  prices were high and Russia was flush with dollars.  In the light of the huge cost overruns at Kashagan,  however, there is growing scepticism about  Gazprom’s technical and financial capacity to develop the ambitious Shtockman gas field in the Barents Sea, 500km offshore from Murmansk, and the willingness of the international oil companies to commit to such h a risky venture.  Despite Russia’s own ambitious plans for sub-sea  pipelines across the Baltic and Black Sea, Moscow,  together with Teheran, remains opposed to any cross- Caspian pipeline, partly on ecological and legalistic  grounds, but mainly for political and economic  reasons. Both argue that nothing should be done  until the legal status of the Caspian Sea is settled.

Kazakhstan has bilateral agreements with both  Russia and Azerbaijan regulating oil, gas and related  issues in their respective sectors of the sea. But in the ^ absence of an international agreement on the legal  status of the Caspian as a whole – which hinges on its characterisation as a large lake or an internal sea –  building trans-Caspian pipelines across the southern  Caspian remains a problematic issue.

A possible face-saving formula, if one were needed,  would be to link a line from the eastern shore of the  Caspian to the existing pipelines that already carry  oil and gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz, and other  offshore oil and gas fields, to the Azeri coast south  ofBaku.

Even without a trans-Caspian pipeline, however,  full development of the KCTS corridor’s potential  requires massive matching investment on the

western side of the Caspian. Existing port facilities  in the Baku area need further development and  extra capacity will be needed in the existing export  pipelines. These include the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil line and the parallel gas pipeline, which carry oil  and gas through Georgia and Turkey. Other proposals h include raising capacity of the smaller oil pipelines  running from Baku to Supsa and to Batumi, Georgian ports on the Black Sea.

Plans for a large Kazakh-owned refinery in Batumi  and other Kazakh investments in Georgia have been  put on hold since the conflict between Russia and  Georgia erupted in August 2008. But Houston-based  KBR is quietly exploring the technical feasibility of an undersea pipeline between Kuryk and Baku, which  would cross some of the deepest sectors of the world’s largest inland sea.

The great attraction of such a pipeline is that, once constructed, its operation would be in the hands of  the two states which see most clearly the benefits  of cross-Caspian co-operation – Kazakhstan and  Azerbaijan. But the wider political obstacles remain  large – despite strong support from Washington and  growing interest in Brussels.

Invest in Kazakhstan An official publication of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2009. Pages: 55-58.

Нефте-Боратовый имидж Казахстана в Америке пора менять 0

Posted on April 19, 2010 by KazCham

Соединенные Штаты давно уже являются привлекательным и выгодным торгово-экономическим партнером для стран Центральной Азии. Однако партнерство это сводится главным образом к работе в регионе американских энергетических компаний да просьбам Вашингтона подсобить в осуществлении операции сил коалиции в Афганистане. А вот самим центральноазиатским государствам на рынок США пробиться крайне сложно, да и разного рода препон на этом пути остается более чем достаточно.
Поэтому весьма символично, что первой страной Центральной Азии, которая открыла в Соединенных Штатах (город Нью-Йорк) представительство своей Торгово-промышленной палаты, стал именно Казахстан. О том, чем оно занимается и каким образом намерено оживлять казахстанско-американское деловое сотрудничество, рассказывает руководитель представительства Юлия Даурова.

По словам Юлии Дауровой, коэффициент рентабельности инвестиций в Казахстане доходит до 150%

– Продвижение политических интересов Казахстана уже давно ведется Астаной весьма активно, и нынешнее председательство в ОБСЕ, а на будущий год – в Организации Исламских государств – тому яркое свидетельство. А как обстоит дело с убеждением зарубежных стран развивать с Казахстаном деловое и экономическое сотрудничество? И как в этом плане способствует этому механизм работы за рубежом казахстанской Торгово-промышленной палаты?
– За последнее кризисное время усилился интерес американских компаний к развивающимся перспективным рынкам, к которым относится и Казахстан. Благодаря внедрению индустриально-инновационной стратегии правительством Казахстана активизировались в нашем направлении инвестиционные компании и банки Соединенных Штатов. Поэтому неудивительно, что большая часть запросов в наше представительство приходится именно на них.
Так, один из крупных фондов США считает, что лучшими инвестициями за последние 10 лет для них оказался проект именно в Казахстане, где коэффициент рентабельности этих инвестиций составил 150%, что является весьма высоким показателем. Вместе с тем многие американские компании просто хотят поподробнее узнать об экономической ситуации у нас в стране, поскольку все еще опасаются политических и финансовых рисков. Да, к Казахстану сейчас проявляют интерес американские компании, представляющие агропромышленный сектор и сферу химического производства, но, на мой взгляд, они все еще очень осторожны.
Чтобы как-то расшевелить их, мы планируем проведение постоянных семинаров и конференций, сориентированных на целевые аудитории по отдельным секторам развития экономики и торговли, а также по вопросам ведения бизнеса в Казахстане. В этом нам активно содействует юридическая компания Грата, аудиторская компания PricewaterhouseCoopers Kazakhstan, Broad Street Capital Group и, конечно же, Посольство и Консульство Казахстана в США.
Мы уже запустили механизмы маркетинга социальных сетей, а в ближайшие недели планируем провести целый ряд мероприятий по продвижению делового имиджа нашей страны в Америке, потому что нам по-прежнему часто говорят, будто о Казахстане очень трудно узнать. Вот и постараемся такое отношение как-то изменить.
Хочу еще раз подчеркнуть, что интерес – как со стороны американских компаний, так и казахстанских, к ведению совместного бизнеса есть. В основном он касается инвестиций и импортно-экспортных операций. Но при этом тем же американским компаниям очень трудно связаться с нужными людьми в Казахстане, они не знают, как это лучше сделать, попадают в своего рода информационный вакуум.
Все прошедшие годы этим занималось наше посольство в Вашингтоне, но оно сильно загружено работой по другим направлениям. Поэтому теперь именно мы надеемся стать тем «деловым мостиком» между нашими двумя странами и обеспечивать оперативной информацией американцев о проектах, законодательстве, инвестиционном климате в Казахстане.

– Соединенные Штаты с самого момента провозглашения Казахстаном независимости активно работали в республике в области энергетики. Как в этой сфере американцы действуют в Казахстане сейчас? И каково примерное соотношение участия бизнеса США в области добычи нефти в Казахстане и всеми другими проектами?
– За годы развития двусторонних экономических отношений Соединенные Штаты инвестировали в экономику Казахстана 14.3 миллиарда (это с 1993 года) – причем в основном именно в нефтегазовую промышленность и сопутствующие ей услуги. Однако сейчас экспорт из США в Казахстан упал до уровня 2005 года и составил 600 миллионов долларов за 2009 год, хотя было время, когда он доходил и до миллиарда долларов. Замечу, что из этой суммы 40% приходится на оборудование для нефтяной отрасли, 25%-на транспортную технику, а все остальное – на компьютеры, телекоммуникации, электронику и химическую промышленность.
Несмотря на то, что сейчас в области развития сотрудничества с Казахстаном активизируются американские агропромышленные компании, а также фирмы, занимающиеся поставкой медицинского оборудования, плюс образовательные учреждения из США, которые хотели бы инвестировать в проекты на территории Казахстана, мне кажется, что существующее процентное соотношение инвестиций в нефтекомплекс и другие области экономики Казахстана не изменится. Наверняка все те же 65% американских инвестиций в нашу республику будут и в будущем приходиться на нефть, газ и сопутствующие транспортные магистрали.

– Как вы считаете, насколько в целом изменился общий «деловой фон» Казахстана в Америке по сравнению с тем, когда это бизнес-сотрудничество только начиналось? Не кажется ли вам, что американцы, даже несмотря на свое уже почти двадцатилетнее присутствие в республике, все же очень плохо информированы о Казахстане и мало представляют себе его реальный бизнес-потенциал?
– Не хочу показаться банальной, но Казахстан для большинства американцев – это все еще нефть и Борат. Вот и весь имидж нашей страны для среднего американца. Те же американские инвесторы бурно реагируют на слово «нефть» применительно к Казахстану, однако они по-прежнему совершенно не знают о том, что Казахстан является, к примеру, одним из крупнейших в мире экспортеров меди, урана и зерна.
Когда им об этом говоришь, то для них это целое открытие. Поэтому можно констатировать, что для изменения положения потребуется большая работа по продвижению имиджа нашей страны с участием крупнейших американских и казахстанских компаний. Чтобы слово «медь» в той же Америке ассоциировалось с работой компании «Казахмыс» например, а производство алюминия – с ENRC и так далее.
Пока что общий деловой фон во взаимоотношениях Соединенных Штатов и Казахстана не особо изменился. На первом месте по-прежнему остается нефть. При этом казахстанский экспорт в США за кризисный год сократился всего лишь на 65 млн. долларов и составил 1,545 млрд. долларов. Конечно, это в основном нефть, а все остальное – это главным образом руды и металлы.

– Энергетика и ее развитие для США применительно к сотрудничеству с Казахстаном остается приоритетной сферой – в том числе инвестиционной. Но вот самому Казахстану от Соединенных Штатов нужны деньги и на совсем другое – развитие сельского хозяйства, малого бизнеса, транспорта. Что удалось сделать за эти годы для привлечения из Америки в Казахстан компаний не-энергетического сектора?
– Знаете, это сложный вопрос. Судя по тому, что большинство американских компаний, обращающихся к нам за советом и информацией, инвестиционные, то они, в принципе, готовы сотрудничать со своими партнерами в Казахстане по самым различным проектам. Однако все американские партнеры заинтересованы приоритетно в государственно-частном партнерстве в Казахстане или хотя бы в организации у нас в республике совместных предприятий. То есть все американские инвесторы хотят для работы в Казахстане серьезных гарантий.
Насколько я понимаю, эти американские компании обращаются в наши министерства, подают свои заявки на проекты, а потом годами надеются получить из Казахстана какой-либо ответ. Думаю, что если бы американские инвесторы были более осведомлены о нашей стране, то обращались бы в Казахстане напрямую к компании-партнеру, и это бы наверняка ускорило процесс. Но в результате эти американские компании попадают в информационный вакуум, и никакого дальнейшего развития партнерство не получает.

– А каковы интересы казахстанского бизнеса в Америке? И насколько те же представительства вашей Торгово-промышленной палаты могут помочь казахстанским предпринимателям работать и найти партнеров на американском рынке?
– Пока официально наш казахстанский бизнес в Соединенных Штатах представлен только одной компанией – Wimpex. Однако у наших нефтяных компаний есть прочные деловые связи с американскими партнерами, они имеют свои представительства, плюс есть партнерство и на уровне авиакомпаний.
Я встречалась в Америке с несколькими частными инвесторами из Казахстана. Так, одна казахстанская компания здесь открыла стекольный завод, а потом его выгодно перепродала тем же американцам. Есть еще компания, принадлежащая одной казашке, которая занимается импортом икры из Казахстана в Соединенные Штаты. Еще наши молодые ребята открывают здесь рекламное агентство, создали дизайнерскую студию и модельное агентство.
Если же говорить о перспективах казахстанского бизнеса в Соединенных Штатах, то большие возможности имеются для работы у горнорудных компаний и наших производителей зерна. В Америке есть потенциальные покупатели казахстанского урана, золота и зерна, так что в этом направлении потенциал для взаимного сотрудничества есть неплохой.
Думаю, что и для малого бизнеса из Казахстана тоже есть в Соединенных Штатах свои ниши. К примеру, в таком огромном городе, как Нью-Йорк, нет ни одного казахстанского ресторана, а казахов здесь живет примерно 10 тысяч плюс русскоговорящих здесь почти два миллиона. И это не считая весьма активного остального населения города, достигающего примерно 10 миллионов жителей. Вот вам и возможности для наших Алаши или Тюбетейки.
Что касается непосредственно нашей деятельности, то казахстанским компаниям мы готовы помочь и в поиске партнеров в Соединенных Штатах, и покупателей, и совместного финансирования, регистрации, иммиграционных вопросах и других вопросах. То есть если есть хорошая идея и частичное или полное финансирование с нашей стороны, то вполне возможно организовать казахстанский бизнес здесь, в Соединенных Штатах.

– В чем, на ваш взгляд, состоят главные проблемы, которые на сегодня мешают казахстанским и американским предпринимателям успешно взаимодействовать? Только ли здесь проблема в отсутствии должной информации друг о друге или помехи есть больше в менталитете, образе жизни, культурных различиях?
– По большому счету, проблем несколько: они заключаются и в отсутствии должной информации, и в том, что мы говорим на разных языках, и в дальних расстояниях между нашими странами. С другой стороны, работе китайских и российских компаний в Соединенных Штатах это ведь никак не мешает. Тут есть такие представители зарубежного бизнеса, которые даже на английском не говорят ни слова, а зато годами успешно работают на американском рынке.
Согласна, что, возможно, это частично связано с проблемой различия в менталитете. На мой взгляд, есть такие чисто социальные и культурные моменты во взаимоотношениях двух стран. К примеру, казахи издавна живут своим укладом, патриархальной структурой и им намного труднее адаптироваться к весьма специфической американской культуре. Американцы по своей натуре более открыты, напористее в поведении, и в чем-то им проще вести бизнес. Тот же дресс-код, например, у них очень конкретен, а для нас что-то может быть в той же одежде неприемлемо. Но современный бизнес – это ведь не устоявшиеся веками семейные отношения, поэтому, наверное, здесь надо быть гибче и менее формальными. Но все же основной фактор, мешающий активизации наших двусторонних связей, – это отсутствие своевременной и надежной информации друг о друге.

– С учетом того, что централизованная бюрократия в США крайне сильна и в оперативном решении бизнес-вопросов мало-поворотлива, гораздо выгоднее было бы для вашей палаты затаскивать в Казахстан представителей и руководителей компаний отдельных штатов страны, которые гораздо более гибки в принятии решений и будут намного больше заинтересованы в тех же инвестициях и проектах в Казахстане.
– К сожалению, засилье бюрократии душит развитие бизнеса не только в Соединенных Штатах, но и у нас в Казахстане. Однозначно ситуация улучшилась с приходом молодых и динамичных вице-министров в казахстанском правительстве, до которых все же легче «достучаться», они более открыты к контакту и намного быстрее реагируют на те или иные запросы.
Но все же ситуация с бюрократическими препонами остается тяжелой. Например, мне на мой электронный имейл присылают уже согласованные отсканированные ответы на официальных бланках. В американской бизнес – среде до этого не додумались, а отвечают, как это принято по международному деловому этикету, по почте в течение 48 часов.
Есть еще и существенная разница в ведении дел государственными учреждениями двух стран. К примеру, в Соединенных Штатах на любой запрос рано или поздно бизнесмену все равно ответят – обычно это происходит в течение максимум пары недель, иногда, бывает, тянут и по два месяца – но ответ все равно будет. Причем в Америке чем выше чин, к кому вы обращаетесь, тем больше гарантий, что вам дадут скорый ответ. А в Казахстане с запросами-ответами бизнесмен попадает в настоящий Бермудский треугольник.
Что касается представителей американских штатов и их заинтересованности в сотрудничестве с Казахстаном, то тут вы абсолютно правы. У нас уже налажены связи со штатами Луизиана на юге США – это нефтяной и портовый штат; Небраска – по сельскому хозяйству; штат Вашингтон на Тихоокеанском побережье. Сейчас мы работаем над расширением наших деловых связей в Калифорнии, а также планируем заключить соглашения с местными бизнес-ассоциациями в Нью-Йорке.
Американцев мы убеждаем, что открыты и рады различным формам двустороннего сотрудничества, пытаемся помочь им активно работать на обоих рынках и надеемся на успешную реализацию наших планов, на укрепление торговых отношений между США и Казахстаном.

Источник: Деловая Неделя Казахстан. 2 апреля 2010. Юрий СИГОВ.

Non-conventional energy gets higher priority 1

Posted on April 13, 2010 by KazCham

KAZAKHSTAN’S TERRAIN AND geography makes  it a highly suitable location for the generation  of many types of non-conventional energy. Its  empty windswept steppes, clear skies and under- exploited reserves of farmland can all be utilised to  generate electricity, thereby reducing the country’s  dependence on fossil fuels.

At present, some 80 per cent of the electricity  consumed in Kazakhstan is from coal-fired  power stations, with the remainder generated by  hydropower. There are not yet any provisions for  other forms of non-conventional energy to connect  to the national grid. The law on support for usage of  renewable energy, currently being considered by the  Kazakh parliament, is set to change that, and open  the way for large scale installations.

Given Kazakhstan’s abundant coal, oil and gas  reserves, the question naturally arises: “why invest in  alternative energy?” However, Kazakhstan’s oil and  gas reserves are its largest source of export revenues,  and – especially when Kashagan starts production –  are expected to continue to bring in money for many  decades to come. If some of the growing domestic  demand for energy can be derived from other  sources, this will conserve reserves of fossil fuels.

Early investment into alternative energy sources  will also protect Kazakhstan against future increases  in oil and gas prices and – in the longer term – the  time when its hydrocarbon reserves are exhausted.  “We all understand that the resources we have  underground will end one day. Oil and coal would  run short,” says Nurlan Djienbayev, director of solar  technology company ND&Co. “In order to have a  softer transition, we need to think about it now.”

In addition, Kazakhstan’s electricity generation  capacity is not evenly distributed across the country.  Power is imported from Russia in the north, and  Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in the south. The main oil and gas reserves are in the west, the coal-fired power  stations in the north, near Karaganda and Ekibastuz,  and most of the hydropower plants along the Irtysh  river in north-east Kazakhstan. “Renewable energy can contribute to Kazakhstan’s  energy independence by being deployed in areas such as -south and north Kazakhstan, where power is currently  imported,” says Gennady Doroshin, head of the UNDP’s  Kazakhstan Wind Power Market Development Initiative.  “It can provide power to remote consumers, and reduce  transmission losses and the need for substantial power  transmission line construction.”

As Kazakhstan’s economy grows, demand for  electricity also increases, making the uninterrupted  supply of power to even the largest urban centres, such  as Almaty, a real challenge. Power cuts are still frequent, h

“Kazakhstan has a vast territory and its population  is scattered. After the break-up of the USSR, a  dismantling of energy networks took place,” says  Djienbayev. In the 1990s, Kazakhstan lost 90 per cent  of its hydropower capacity, when many smaller plants  were shut down.

“In some areas, villages are arranged within a large  distance from main energy networks,” Djienbayev  continues. “Today, there is a lack of electric power in  many regions of Kazakhstan, including Almaty. Solar  atteries could have significantly supplemented main  networks, and helped to solve this problem. But we  cannot do this today, because of the absence of the law.”

Moreover, Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s largest  emitter of greenhouse gases. According to 2004  data from the International Energy Agency (IEA),  emissions amounted to around 6kg of carbon dioxide h for each dollar earned. The coal-dominated energy  sector accounts for around 80 per cent of total  emissions. Poor air quality is an issue in many cities  of Kazakhstan. With the country expected to ratify  the Kyoto Protocol in the near future, renewable  energy will be a way of reducing its emissions.

Although the new law will be needed for non- conventional energy to be adopted on a large scale,  there are already several initiatives across the hydro,  wind, solar and biofuels spectrum.

The UNDP Wind Power Market Development  Initiative is a full-scale project to promote the  development of the wind energy market in  Kazakhstan. The UNDP is helping the Kazakh  government to develop a national programme on  wind energy development. This will have targets of  250-300mw of wind installation by 2015 and about  2,000mwby2030.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and  Development is also able to support non-conventional h energy projects through its $75 million framework  facility to finance investments in sustainable energy

– both in projects to increase energy efficiency in  the industrial sector and in small renewable energy  projects. Doroshin stresses the excellent potential of  Kazakhstan for wind energy generation.

“Kazakhstan is one of the best countries in the  world for large scale wind installations because of the h high wind potential and land availability,” he says.  “Many areas of the country have annual wind speeds  of more than 6m/c.” This potential, however, is little  used. This is evident, for example, at the Jungar Gates  on the Chinese border. On the Chinese side, wind  energy stations have been in place for some time; in  Kazakhstan they are still at the planning stage.

There are already two major solar stations in  Kazakhstan, one in Alakol and another in the  Kuldzhinkii region. Four additional stations are  planned under the UNDP initiative – one in Aksai  Gorge and three in Talgar Gorge. There are also  various private installations in the west Kazakhstan  oblast for the oil industry, and in the Almaty region – the largest being a 70 sq m installation to provide  electricity for the IT Park free economic zone. Some  70 per cent of the technology needed for solar  power generation, including accumulator batteries,  is manufactured in Kazakhstan. However, solar  batteries have to be imported. This situation is on the  verge of change, as there are a number of projects to  produce photovoltaic technologies in the country.  Thyssen Krupp Mannex is supplying equipment to  Silicium, Kazakhstan’s planned silicon metal plant in  Karaganda. Lancaster Industrials and Kun Renewables h are setting up a $390 million polycrystalline silicon  plant in Astana. The Investment Fund of Kazakhstan  and the Development Bank of Kazakhstan have  already agreed to finance the project.

Conditions for solar power generation are favourable -across southern Kazakhstan. The Almaty region  rarely goes without sun for more than two five-day  periods in a year. However, until the law is adopted,  systems power generation in Kazakhstan will remain  small-scale. “Solar energy usage is very small, the  figures are insignificant. The main reason for the slow  development of alternative energy resources is the  absence of legislation,” says Djienbayev.

It is a similar situation in the biofuels sector.  According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture,  Kazakhstan has the potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of biofuels a year. Production costs are estimated to be  half of those in western Europe and the US.

However, at present Kazakhstan has just one  functioning biofuel production plant, the Biochim  plant in the north-Kazakhstan oblast. A second plant,  in Taraz, is currently out of order, and a third is being  built in the city of Novoishimsk.

“The most difficult thing is production: there is  only one operating plant and it cannot meet all of the  demand,” says Beisen Donenov, director general of the  Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, which was set up  in 2007 to develop the industry. “Besides, due to the  country’s food security interests, there are limitations  on raw materials for biofuels production. And because  there was a smaller grain harvest last year, the biofuel  plant did not operate at full capacity.”

Next-generation biofuels production technologies,  such as those being installed in the Novoishimsk plant,  would use waste products as raw materials. This would  overcome objections related to food security that have  held back popular acceptance of the biofuels industry.

“At the beginning, there was misunderstanding  and aversion towards biofuels production from crops  producers. This is because many people reacted  negatively to the use of grain for biofuels production  rather than for food,” says Donenov. “However,  Kazakhstan has always had vast lands for crops. And  besides, new technologies allow the use of crop waste  and leftovers for biofuels production.”

There is already considerable private sector interest  in biofuels. The North-Kazakhstan Plant belongs to  a consortium of Kazakh companies, and the Taraz  Plant is 30 per cent state-owned, with the remainder  in private hands. There are plans to sell a 50 per cent  stake in the new plant to private investors.

Toyota has signed an agreement with the  Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, and according to  Donenov, is ready to start developing next-generation  biofuels production technologies in Kazakhstan. The  association is also working with several US scientific  institutions on the production of aviation kerosene  and other new generation biofuels.

“According to our calculations, we could build  at least 40-50 biofuels plants in Kazakhstan. The  question is in investments,” says Donenov. “However,  I must admit that the crisis decreased the number  of interested investors. In this regard, the crisis has  negatively affected our industry.”

The two key factors holding back the development  of biofuels and other types of renewable energy are the  lack of investment at present, and the need for a legal  framework. Kazakhstan’s parliament is widely expected to pass the necessary legislation this summer. The  question of investment is more open; those projects  without funding from the Kazakh government or  international development agencies, are likely to be  held back until the global economy recovers.

Invest in Kazakhstan An official publication of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2009. Pages: 64-67.

U.S. rolls out red carpet for controversial Kazakh leader 0

Posted on April 13, 2010 by KazCham

US rolls out red carpet for controversial Kazakh leader

AFP American Edition

Apr 12, 2010 12:40 EDT

Kazakhstan’s authoritarian president Nursultan Nazarbayev touted himself as poster boy of a Washington summit on nuclear disarmament Monday — and President Barack Obama, badly needing allies in Central Asia, was his main fan.

Posters of a smiling Nazarbayev hung prominently on advertising boards around Washington, where leaders of 47 countries were attending a summit on securing the world’s loose nukes.

After a one-hour meeting with Obama on Sunday, the Kazakh strongman, who has been in power since his energy-rich state emerged from the 1991 Soviet collapse, has plenty to smile about.

Washington holds up Kazakhstan, which voluntarily ceded its portion of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, as an example of a country benefiting from what Obama says should be the world’s ultimate goal: full nuclear disarmament.

Nazarbayev explains on the posters that his vast, sparsely populated nation gave up the inherited nuclear arsenal because atomic testing during the Soviet period had sickened 1.5 million people.

“That’s why we got rid of our nuclear arsenal, the world’s fourth largest. And that is why we call on the world to follow our example. There is no other way to build a safer world,” the poster quotes Nazarbayev saying.

White House advisor Mike McFaul said Obama described Nazarbayev as “one of the model leaders” on nuclear safety issues and said that the Washington summit wouldn’t have happened “without his presence.”

“By giving up nuclear weapons they went from a country that might have been isolated had they kept those nuclear weapons, and in turn was open to the international economy,” McFaul said.

On the sensitive topic of democracy, Obama was more than understanding.

“Both Presidents agreed that it?s never — you don?t ever reach democracy, you always have to work at it,” McFaul said. “President Obama reminded his Kazakh counterpart that we, too, are working to improve our democracy.”

Nazarbayev doesn’t always get such warm treatment abroad.

Though not considered as repressive as the leaders of Central Asia’s Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, Nazarbayev has rigged elections for almost two decades and crushed media freedom, Western watchdogs say.

His country remains almost unknown to ordinary people in the West beyond the satirical send-up in the hit comedy film “Borat,” about a bumbling Kazakh journalist.

But reasons are mounting why Nazarbayev matters.

The violent overthrow of the government in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where the United States has a military base, sharply highlighted the importance of politically stable Kazakhstan as an access route to Afghanistan.

During their meeting, Obama and Nazarbayev strengthened that route by agreeing on overflight rights for US military aircraft coming over the North Pole and directly south into Afghanistan — a significant shortcut for US-based planes.

“This will save money, it will save time, in terms of moving our troops and the supplies needed into the theater, as President Obama has already announced,” McFaul said.

Less immediate, but of equally strategic importance, is Kazakhstan’s emerging role as an energy source, both in its huge oil reserves and its ambition — despite the non-nuclear stance — of being the world’s top producer of uranium.

“The presidents reconfirmed the importance of the long-term energy partnership between the two countries,” a joint statement said. “The United States welcomed Kazakhstan?s emergence as the top global uranium producer as an important development for diversification of global energy supply.”

Kazakh Ambassador Erlan Idrissov listed a host of issues — nuclear non-proliferation, energy, Afghanistan, relations with Russia and China, and anti-terrorism — that he said make US-Kazakh relations “very important.”

“Over the first years of emergence, people didn’t realize who we are and what we are,” he told journalists Monday.

But “Kazakhstan was there for millennia and will continue to be there for millennia.”

Source: AFP American Edition

Modernising mines for safe environment and profit 1

Posted on April 06, 2010 by KazCham

STEEL GIANT ARCELOR-MITTAL owns the Temirtau  steel complex, some 50km from Kazakhstan’s  mining capital, Karaganda. The bankrupt plant  was bought in 1995 by Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian  entrepreneur, together with a string of nearby  coal and iron mines. The mines guarantee supply  security at low cost and helped generate large profits at the steel plant.

Once the global steel market started to boom, cash  flow generated by low-cost Temirtau, together with  the valuable experience gained turning round the  Soviet-era giant, generated the confidence to buy a  string of similar plants in Ukraine, Romania, South  Africa and elsewhere. In this way, Mittal’s Kazakh  investment helped the company gain the critical  mass, and the cash, to win control over the Franco- Luxembourg Arcelor steel group three years ago. The  merged Arcelor-Mittal is now the world’s largest steel group, with the Kazakh company contributing about  8 per cent of the total.

However, a series of deadly methane explosions in  some of the company’s eight Kazakh coal mines over the -last three years underlined concerns that the company  had not paid sufficient attention to the poor state of the Soviet-era underground mines that had been starved of  investment for years before the Soviet collapse. Critics  said Mittal knew less about mining than it did about  steel. Certainly, when this correspondent went down  the flagship Lenin mine a few years ago, miners were  wearing little more than rags, the access shafts were  littered with broken-down machines, they were poorly  lit and had little ventilation. Working conditions in the  mine were worse than in similar mines I had visited in  South Africa.

Safety awareness campaigns designed to change  the inherited Soviet-era low priority for safety were  not enough to change the inherent dangers of  deep, sloping mines producing volatile, gaseous  coals. These are great for coking and steel making  but dangerous to mine using the inherited Soviet  technology. Sections of the mine were frequently  being closed to evacuate the methane gas and prevent dangerous accumulations.

Eventually, after a string of serious explosions,  in which 125 miners died over a four-year period,  Arcelor-Mittal turned to two US specialist companies,  EnSafe, a Memphis-based environmental engineering  company, and Dallas-based Petron Resources, to  develop a de-gasification system capable of safely  extracting the estimated one billion cubic feet  of methane estimated to be recoverable from  the coalfield.

Mittal obtained a $100 million loan from the  European Bank for Reconstruction and Development  to help finance the project, which is part of a much  wider, $5 billion scheme to double steel capacity at  Temirtau to around 10 million tonnes over the next  few years. This will also require much more extensive mining of coal, iron and limestone, all of which are  found in the Karaganda basin.

Don Cowan, vice president of international  projects for EnSafe, says: “There are three aspects to  the project – health and safety, mine productivity  and gas production.” Doug White, CEO at Petron  adds: “The first objective is to make the operations  safer, but Mittal also wants to earn greenhouse  emission credits.”

According to the Stern Review of the Economics  of Climate Change, methane has a global warming  impact 23 times more damaging than carbon  dioxide. By extracting methane from the mines,  reducing ‘fugitive emissions’ seeping out of the  mines and safely channelling the gas, using  methane mining techniques developed by the oil  and gas industry, the project will save lives, cut  costs – and provide a new fuel source sufficient  to power a 200mw power station. As a result of  Kazakhstan finally ratifying the Kyoto Treaty this  year, the company will probably also qualify for  greenhouse emission credits, which will help pay for the projects

David Vint, a veteran Scottish coal mine engineer,  is running the Karaganda methane project. His goal  is to achieve safer working conditions and make  fullest use of the gas recovered.

Explosions occur, he explains, when the methane  escaping naturally from the coal mixes with oxygen  and is ignited by a spark. Mining the methane  involves driving channels through the coal seams,  using multi-directional drilling methods and  equipment, such as blow out preventers developed  by the oil and gas industry. Channels drilled through h the coal create manageable gaps through which the  methane naturally flows into collector pipes, which  can safely transport it to the surface. “Concentrated  methane in a pipe is safe methane. You can burn  it, in a power station for example, but it lacks the  oxygen to explode,” Vint explains.

Higher productivity from modern mining  machines means that more gas can be liberated from -the cut coal. Doubling capacity of the steel plant  will require more and bigger mines. But if current  trials are successful, making the mines safer will  also deliver greater volumes of useful gas. “If the gas  potential from existing, new and exhausted mines  is added together it could provide enough gas to  generate up to 200mw of power,” Vint says.

That will be relatively clean power – energy which  Mittal will no longer have to buy from the over-loaded national grid, which is produced mainly by polluting h coal-fired power plants. The main question still open  at this stage is whether methane mining techniques,  which have been proven successful in shallower US  and Australian mines, will work, or can be adapted  to work, in Kazakhstan’s relatively deep mines. If the  current trials are successful, not only will mining  become safer, but Kazakhstan, with its vast coal  deposits, will also acquire considerable additional  energy reserves.

Invest in Kazakhstan An official publication of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2009. Pages:72-73.

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