The Argus Kazakhstan & Central Asia Oil and Gas 2017 conference took place on 28-29 June in Almaty. The event brought together key participants from the crude and oil products markets as well as government officials from Kazakhstan and other FSU countries. The conference was organised by global price reporting agency Argus.
The event was supported by transportation and freight forwarding firm Petroleum Group, the general partner, as well as by Spectr Trading, Avestra, Intertek and Novaya AZS.
Over 170 participants from 17 countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Russia discussed the current outlook and development prospects of Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry.
Speakers included representatives of Kazakhstan’s energy ministry and leading Kazakh companies such as Kazenergy, Kazmunaigaz, KTZ and CPC.
The head of Argus’ Russian branch, Vyacheslav Mischenko, noted in his welcoming remarks that the conference could turn into a regular forum for market discussions between professionals, given that the crude and products market in Kazakhstan and Central Asia is growing rapidly, while also becoming increasingly transparent and promising.
“In a short while, we may witness exports of Kazakh light oil products to neighbouring regions,” Mischenko said. “That is why both buyers and sellers will be interested in meeting to discuss these new trade flows.”
The chief executive of Kazenergy, Bolat Akchulakov, one of the key speakers, covered the development of Kazakhstan’s fuel market. Specifically, he noted that refinery upgrades are becoming essential as this will lead to higher output, which will lead to stronger growth in exports. Akchulakov told the audience about the work being performed by the Kazakh government in co-operation with Kazenergy and Kazakh entrepreneurs association Atameken to develop a new code on mineral resources that aims to harmonise national laws with global standards.
The code, which is scheduled to be adopted in Kazakhstan in the second half of 2017, will promote international co-operation and attract investment to exploration projects at new oil and gas fields.
Kairat Urazbaev, the head of Kazmunaigaz’s refinery upgrade management department, spoke about the results of refinery upgrades in Kazakhstan. He said total capacity at Kazakhstan’s three refineries should reach 16.5mn t/yr in the next few years. “After the three oil refineries are upgraded, the government will ban the production and sale of any fuels with a quality lower than the Euro 4 standard. This measure will help to make the refineries economically viable as soon as possible,” Urazbaev said.
The audience showed a particular interest in a report given by Rauf Guseynov, the editor of Argus Caspian Markets and Argus Caspian Transportation, who presented data on the Kazakh crude and products market in the first half of this year and key trends. Among other things, he noted growth in crude throughputs at the major Kazakh refineries and an increase in domestic sales. But the country’s fuel market still depends on imports.
Kazakh gasoline has strong competitive advantages for sales to countries such as Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan compared with large suppliers’ cargoes, Guseynov said. “Kazakh oil products are cheaper and easily accessible for these countries owing to Kazakhstan’s proximity. The further south the products are shipped, the more profit Kazakh refiners will make,” Guseynov explained.
During the second session, participants discussed Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry. Vladimir Karpov, head of Tatneft’s crude and products sales department, delivered a report on technologies and processes used at modern oil refineries to produce high-quality products.
Konstantin Argutin, the chief executive of Power Petroleum, presented a report on the Kazakh wholesale products market. Specifically, he shared information on products imports — gasoline and diesel — to Kazakhstan last year and assessed the near-term outlook for the industry.
At a session dedicated to the markets of neighbouring states, Melis Turgunbaev, the chairman of Kyrgyzneftegaz, gave an account of Kyrgyzstan’s refining industry and described the prospects of the Central Asian products market.
He noted the importance of this event for the oil and gas market of Central Asia. “It is the first time I have taken part in a conference where so many suppliers and buyers from the FSU have gathered at the same time,” Turgunbaev commented.
The day closed with an evening cocktail reception, which offered an opportunity for speakers and delegates to follow up the official discussions with informal talks on market issues.
The second day of the conference focused on the LPG market in Kazakhstan and neighbouring states.
Ilya Zaymentsev, senior analyst at Sibur Holding, noted the steady development of the Russian LPG market. “A hike in LPG shipments from Russia to Ukraine will increasingly impact Russian pricing,” he said.
Svetlana Novolodskaya, a senior editor at Argus, spoke on the supply-demand balance and pricing in the LPG market in Central Asia. Novolodskaya covered LPG production and exports in the FSU, key trends and development prospects in the industry, as well as factors that will influence the Central Asian market in 2017-18.
Conference participants also discussed the latest changes in the market’s fiscal and tariff regulations, export issues and trends in the Kazakh and central Asian market for light oil products, as well as the potential of Kazakh LPG to be exported to Central Asia.
The next Argus Kazakhstan & Central Asia Oil and Gas conference will take place in 2018.