Kazakhstan tests the market with new exploration round
On 20 August 2015, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy (MoE) announced a list of 12 exploration blocks available for offer. The blocks are almost all located in core oil and gas provinces in western and central Kazakhstan. As a substitute to the familiar tendering process, the MoE may now grant exploration and production licences through signing bonuses based auctions. This auction is a noteworthy step for Kazakhstan. The need to unlock new reserves via onshore exploration has been an under-valued part of Kazakhstan’s long term energy strategy. Given the country’s reliance on its largest oil and gas projects, any exploration success would be a positive counterbalance to decline at mature onshore fields. This could be the start of a more positive period for onshore exploration, particularly if companies are willing to make counter-cyclical investments.