The offshore infrastructure of the Kachagan oil field in Kazaksthan is threatened due to the drop in the Caspian Sea level.
Operated since 2016 by an international consortium made up of the Kazakh company KazmunaiGas, the French Total, the American ExxonMobil, the Italian Eni, the Anglo-Dutch Shell, the Chinese CNPC and the Japanese Inpex, the site is one of the most important offshore oil fields of the world. Its operation is technically very complex because of the location of the site. And it is not the recent readings carried out which will calm the concerns. Indeed, global warming dries up the Caspian Sea and dangerously lowers its level. A study published in 2017 showed that its level fell by 1.4 meters between 1996 and 2015 and that it could drop to 18 meters by the end of the century. As stated by the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) in charge of operating the site: “ The drop in the Caspian Sea level as well as the shallow sea depth in the area of the offshore installations at Kachagan have limited the use of boats. This poses a threat to safe operation, which could lead to the complete shutdown of one of the largest fields in Kazakhstan ”.
The subsoil of the zone contains gigantic quantities of oil and natural gas estimated respectively at 50 billion barrels and 300,000 billion m3.
If these revelations are bad news for the consortium, they are, on the other hand, welcome for the local flora and fauna. The operation of the site generates, in fact, significant pollution which is already making its deleterious effects felt and fears that the Caspian Sea will follow the same path as the Aral Sea as the intensive cultivation of cotton on its tributaries under the Soviet era has virtually wiped out.