Bitumen Plant Commissioned in Aktau, Creating Another Link Between China, Kazakhstan

Caspi BitumAKTAU – A bitumen plant capable of processing 1 million tons of oil and producing about 400 tons of high-quality bitumen officially opened in Aktau on Dec. 20. President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev took part in the opening via teleconference.

The Caspi Bitum joint venture, which built and owns the plant, is one of 34 sites on the regional Industrialisation Map. Caspi Bitum is 50-50 percent owned by Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries JSC and CITIC Kazakhstan CJSC. The former is the subsidiary of KazMunayGas national oil and gas company and the latter is the subsidiary of CITIC (China International Trust and Investment Corporation) Group.

The plant was launched on Dec. 8 and is currently employing about 80 percent of the total staff it will eventually need.

“We have a lot of young specialists who have just finished college or other programmes this year. We hope that they will soon become real experts, who in the future will manage the plant. Two hundred eighty-six people work in the plant and 288 of them are production staff. The bulk of the workers are residents of the Aktau and of the Mangistau region,” Seilkhan Dzhussubekov, technical director of Caspi Bitum, said.

About 100 people took part in the official opening. In addition to offering congratulations, Nazarbayev reprimanded controlling state agencies.

“Financial police, your task is to monitor employees working in state bodies. Why do you hinder businesses? Let the tax office work with economic issues [and] the financial police with financial ones … . A successful state creates all the necessary conditions for business. Look at the history of any country, any computer corporation. How did they start? They were small companies. I think we need to evolve this way, too. Our people of Kazakhstan should think about it,” the President said.

On Dec. 31, Le Yucheng, ambassador of China to Kazakhstan, visited the plant. “Today, I am very pleased to come to the beautiful city of Aktau on the coast of the Caspian Sea to celebrate with you the commissioning ceremony of the Aktau Bitumen Plant. The Aktau Bitumen Plant could not have come into operation smoothly without the support and attention of the Kazakh central and local governments, especially Akim (Governor) Alik Aidarbayev, and the hard work and dedication of the construction workers of both countries. Here, please allow me to extend my great respect and warm congratulations to the governor, the Kazakh colleagues and builders present.”

Le also noted that the economies of China and Kazakhstan are highly complementary and bilateral cooperation in the field of energy has yielded productive results. In recent years, the momentum of cooperation in the non-resource sector has also been continuously strengthened. In 2007, the two governments signed the Programme for Economic Cooperation in the Non-resources Sector, which has been actively implemented by both sides over recent years.

Major projects such as the Aktau Bitumen Plant, the Moinak Hydro Power Plant and the Pavlodar Electrolytic Aluminium Plant have been completed and put into operation, becoming the new highlights of bilateral cooperation.

“I am convinced that through our joint efforts, cooperation in the non-resource sector between the two countries will certainly increase in scale, yield more achievements and bring more tangible benefits to the two countries and peoples,” Le said.

At present, the relationship between China and Kazakhstan is one of the most active and significant for Kazakhstan. During his visit to Astana in September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Nazarbayev reached a broad consensus on further deepening the China-Kazakhstan comprehensive strategic partnership, which gave a new impetus to the development of bilateral relations and cooperation in all fields. In particular, the initiative of building Xi’s proposed Silk Road Economic Belt received a warm response from Nazarbayev. The two heads of state both agreed on enhancing their joint work and jointly building a new Silk Road.

The ambassador expressed the hope that the products of the Aktau plant will make an important contribution to this cause. The Aktau plant is expected to process oil from the nearby Karazhanbas oil field as well as from other fields.

“At present, both China and Kazakhstan are at critical stages of national development. The new Chinese leadership proposed the initiative of realising the ‘Chinese Dream’ of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and the third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China convened last month also set a goal of continuing to vigorously deepen reforms. These are highly compatible with the Kazakhstan 2050 national development strategy proposed by Nazarbayev. The enterprises of the two countries should seize this chance, actively seek opportunities, courageously make pioneering and innovative efforts and further intensify cooperation. Let us join hands and work together to create a brighter future for our two countries,” he said.

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