«International Herald Tribune», Wednesday, October 27, 2010. - The annual KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum is expected to grow in importance as the Eurasian region becomes one of the world’s leading oil and natural-gas producers, according to Jambulat Sarsenov, the general director of the KazEnergy Association.
KAZENERGY is Kazakhstan’s main energy industry association, responsible for liaising with the government on key issues that con front the industry as a whole, such as taxation, environmental and labor regulations, and other rules.
According to Sarsenov, the annual KAZENERGY forum will continue to highlight issues at the global level, such as world trends in oil and natural-gas supplies and prices, but will focus on the region. ‘‘Eurasia is a growing hub of global energy relations and a strategic priority for Kazakhstan,’’ he says.
He said that the forum, the fifth of which was held in early October in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, ‘‘ensures the opportunity to discuss thoroughly the whole spectrum of energy development, the current situation in different energy spheres, ecology, investments, business cooperation and other relevant topics. Traditionally, participants and speakers are not only authoritative and influential representatives of Eurasia and Kazakhstan, but also represent the views from all parts of the world.’’
Sarsenov noted that the main theme of the fourth KazEnergy Eurasian Forum in 2009 ‘‘was dedicated to such an important issue as global strategic alliances in the energy sector. This year we scrutinized the situation in the Gulf of Mexico and the consequences for the worldwide sector of the ecological catastrophe that tragically took place there earlier this year.’’
But Eurasia’s unique role as an emerging and growing energy-production center will mean that trends, opportunities and energy-related issues in the region will remain the focus of future forums, he added. Sarsenov said his personal contacts and discussions with participants at this year’s forum convinced him that the reaction to the wide-ranging program‘‘ was very positive and a real reflection of the process of evaluation and perception of the forum’s dialogue and its results, the level of organization of the event and the range of issues discussed by participants and speakers. I think it is important that the fifth KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum demon strated the readiness of all participants to deepen cooperation in the context of embracing new opportunities, to foster new sources of energy and to increase ecological sustainability and the investment potential and attractiveness of Kazakhstan.’’
Sarsenov said the Gulf of Mexico spill would have a big impact on oil and natural-gas operations in Kazakhstan, whose newest and most promising fields, such as the giant Kashagan project, are offshore in the environmentally sensitive Caspian Sea.
‘‘Kazakhstan’s ecology legislation corresponds with all world standards and applies strict measures against companies which violate ecological norms and best practice,’’ he said.
He said that an extensive review of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico is under way to ensure that such a catastrophe would not happen in the Caspian. ‘‘This is being implemented on the government and state level and also by companies, industry and academic experts,’’ he explained. ‘‘And the issue was scrutinized and discussed in detail during the recently concluded fifth KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum.’’
Sarsenov said key government minis tries, including the oil and the environment ministries, have set up a joint working group ‘‘to evaluate the whole range of issues re-garding the technological development of oil exploitation on the Caspian Sea shelf and the security of its environment.’’ He said the government ministries and agencies are working in close cooperation with oil and gas companies as well as the KAZENERGY Association.
‘‘Kazakhstan is ready to intensify international environmental cooperation between the states of the Caspian basin,’’ he said. ‘‘In particular, the agreement between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to enlarge interaction in the sphere of prevention and handling of emergencies in the Caspian Sea was signed during the recent forum.’’
Sarsenov also pointed to the construction in Kazakhstan of a new environmental emergency reaction base that will have the equipment and trained personnel to deal with possible ecological emergencies as a positive and progressive step to protecting the Caspian.
He said another key issue between KAZENERGY member companies and the government this year will be the search for a compromise agreement on oil-export customs duty and its planned increase in 2011.
‘‘The association will also continue to assist the government and other state bodies to improve energy legislation, including through joint cooperation within the association’s coordinating committee,’’ he added.
KAZENERGY will also concentrate on its external communications and outreach programs for the general public, said Sarsenov, to ensure that the industry’s key role in the economic development of Kazakhstan is understood and appreciated more fully.
‘‘A favorable information climate is one of the key components of the energy industry’s stable development,’’ he said.