Business News in Brief

Max Petroleum Plc, an oil and gas exploration and production company focused on Kazakhstan, has started two new wells in the Zhana Makat field and Uytas field, the company reported earlier in July. In particular, the company has commenced drilling the ZMA-A21 development well on Block E of the Zhana Makat field. The well will be drilled with a Zhanros ZJ-30 rig. Total vertical depth of the well will be approximately 860 metres, targeting Jurassic reservoirs. The company has also commenced drilling the UTS-11 appraisal well in the Uytas field. This well is the second in a 13-well appraisal programme at Uytas. The well will be drilled with a Zhanros ZJ-20 rig to a total vertical depth of 450 metres, targeting Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs in the central portion of the field. Max Petroleum Plc holds 100 percent of Blocks A and E at the license area covering over 12,455 square kilometres in the highly prolific Pre-Caspian Basin in West Kazakhstan.

Rominserv, part of the oil and gas group Rompetrol, will supply project management and training services for a petrochemical project in Western Kazakhstan, which is a six-billion-euro investment that should produce 800,000 tonnes of ethylene and 500,000 tonnes of polypropylene. The consultancy contract with the Romania-based company is worth some five million dollars for this year and covers the first stage of the project, which consists of building one of the necessary production installations, a task undertaken by Chinese company Sinopec Engineering. This is the third project for Rominserv in Kazakhstan, the home country of Rompetrol’s parent company, KazMunayGas. The previous two projects were undertaken between 2009 and 2011. Rompetrol group, which includes the Rominserv subsidiary, is owned by KazMunayGas, which took over the company in 2007 from former shareholder Dinu Patriciu.

Air Astana’s net income for the first six months of 2013 was $11,890,000, an increase of 143 percent compared to the same period in 2012. The airline’s revenue rose 12 percent to $442,640,000 and it saw a load increase of 13 percent. The number of passengers increased by 11 percent to 1,698,000. The national carrier received its seventh regional jet, an Embraer E-190, and the 12th family of Airbus 320 aircraft and the flight took off with two Fokker 50 to keep the number of ships in the fleet of Aircraft Company. Air Astana’s fleet consists of 26 planes. At the Skytrax 2013 World Airline Awards, Air Astana was once again named Best Airline in Central Asia and India. The carrier also won Best Service in Central Asia and India recognition. The ceremony took place on June 18, 2013 as part of the 50th anniversary of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

Kazakhstan has seen a sharp increase in the purchase of new cars in the last year, with sales breaking pre-crisis records. Rising incomes, Kazakhstan’s entry to the Customs Union and legislation restricting imports of used cars have all contributed to the increase, encouraging firms such as France’s Peugeot Citroen to set up production in the country and existing manufacturers to expand their operations. Peugeot has announced plans to launch production in the northern industrial city of Kostanay in July, with the first locally assembled cars due to reach dealers in September. Expanding into Kazakhstan is part of the French company’s strategy to diversify away from its base in Europe, where demand is still sluggish. Speaking to journalists in Astana in June, Peugeot General Director for Operations in Russia, Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Bernd Schantz said that the crisis in the European auto market has prompted the automaker to develop other regions with the aim of increasing the share of its business outside Europe to 50 percent of the total by 2015. Kazakhstan was selected because of the rapid growth of its car market. “Kazakhstan has benefited from political and economic development and a good investment climate,” Schantz told journalists. The market has the potential to triple in size to 300,000 cars a year, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Isekeshev predicted in February. The market as a whole saw a dramatic upturn in 2012, when around two billion dollars worth of new cars were purchased, beating sales in the pre-crisis consumer boom.

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