What's at Stake for Whom

At a Glance:

Map Kazakhstan

Among former-Soviet Republics, Kazakhstan's oil and gas resources are only matched by Azerbaijan's. Since Kazakhstan gained its independence in 1991, international oil companies have rushed to tap the country's resources. Since 1993, Chevron has invested more than US$20 billion in developing the oilfield of Tengiz, in western Kazakhstan. A consortium including British Gas, Agip and Texaco has invested another US$20 billion to develop the Karachaganak field in northern Kazakhstan.

The government of Kazakhstan is actively seeking support for the construction of an oil pipeline which will channel oil to the European and American markets. The government of Kazakhstan favors the construction of an oil pipeline crossing Iran, leading to the Persian Gulf. The United States lists Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and a rogue nation that is secretly developing nuclear weapons. Accordingly, the United States has consistently resisted suggestions to build a pipeline across Iran. But at a Dec. 9 news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan again brought up the idea of oil and gas pipelines crossing Iran. Other proposals include laying an oil pipeline which would cross the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia to end at a Turkish port. But perhaps the most feasible proposal would entail upgrading the existing network running along the northern coast of the Caspian Sea, and modernizing the pipeline's terminus at the Russian port of Novorossisk.

Population: 16,731,303 (July 2001 est.)
Industries: Oil, coal, iron ore, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphates, sulfur, iron and steel, nonferrous metal, tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors, construction materials.
Exports: $8.8 billion, 40 percent oil and gas (2000).
Exports—Partners: European Union (23 percent), Russia (20 percent), China (8 percent).
Evironment—current issues: Radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defense industries and test ranges are found throughout the country, industrial pollution is severe in some cities.

Source: CIA World Factbook