Gasification in Kazakhstan Expected to Grow Significantly, Says Energy Official

ASTANA – Kazakhstan Ministerof Energy Vladimir Shkolnik recently said that there are 1,150 gasified localities in Kazakhstan and that by 2030, more than 1,600 will come online. Gas consumption is expected to grow from 10.9 billion cubic metres in 2013 to 18 billion cubic metres in 2030. This includes projects being carried out under the State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development (SPAIID).


Magzum Mirzagaliyev. Photograph: SKazyna

In his interview, Vice-Minister of Energy Magzum Mirzagaliyev further elaborated, discussing the ministry’s gasification aims.

Kazakhstan is known to be rich in mineral resources, especially oil. What about gas? 

Our country has abundant gas reserves. Gas is one of the fastest growing fuels in the domestic economy: gas extraction is growing, as isthe gas pipeline network and refining infrastructure.

In 2014, 43.2 billion cubic metres of gas was produced in Kazakhstan; that is over five times greater than in 1991 and more than twice as much as (115.5 percent) four years ago. Kazakhstan’s geological resources (taking into account the new discoveries on the Caspian shelf) exceed 7.6 trillion cubic metres and recoverable reserves are more than 3.9 trillion cubic metres.

We are pursuing current and revised strategic objectives through Kazakhstan’s new economic policy, the Nurly Zhol programme and the second five-years of industrial development programme. For example, plans to develop the sector include increased gasification around the country. A general gasification scheme for 2015-2030 has been approved. The policy defines economically viable directions for a reliable gas supply to consumers. Already, much work has been accomplished in this area. Regional administrations, together with the Ministry of Energy, have developed regional gasification schemes. Gas consumption volumes have been estimated. Kazakhstan’s General Gasification Scheme is based on the findings, as was a development roadmap for the country’s gas industry until 2030.

You have discussed the preparatory stage. But how will it be implemented in actuality? Heating houses with natural gas is economically more attractive than with coal and wood for example. How quickly will the programme move?

Most of our work until 2030 will focus on domestic gasification aimed at boosting the economy. In terms of figures, from 2006 to the present, more than 130 provincial gasification projects are being implemented by the state. Because of this, over the past eight years, the number of gasified communities grew from 728 to 1,150. Coverage of the population has increased from 5 million to 7 million. Currently, Kazakhstan’s western and southern regions are fully gasified as well as Almaty, covering 10 of the country’s 16 regions. Implementation of the General Gasification Scheme will bring the number of gasified citizens up to 12 million. By 2030, 13 regions will be covered by this scheme. Abou t656 billion tenge (US$3.53 billion) in investments will be needed to complete the project.

Calculations were made to prioritise each region’s importance. Funding can be drawn from three sources: the state budget, the national operator and other sources (such as the public-private enterprise).

Gasification should be a driver of economic growth, the basis for the country’s industrialisation and enhance the ecological and social and economic welfare of the country.

According to commodity gas consumption forecasts for 2030, the largest share of consumption will be in the industrial businesses and fuel-energy complex (31 and 40 percent, respectively), including those that are a part of the SPAIID.

What about gas we use in our homes? Is this a special gas? Is there a difference between the gas produced in the fields and what comes out of our stoves?

There certainly is. Gas from the field is a mixture of various gases with impurities, including harmful ones, such as sulphur. Already treated gas is what comes out of our stoves. It is odorised, meaning that it is given a characteristic smell in order to help people detect leaks.

It was mentioned that liquefied gas could be an alternative to petrol. Does increasing the number of petrol stations carrying this fuel make sense?

Liquefied petroleum gas as a motor fuel is much cheaper than traditional fuel and could be a viable alternative to traditional types, but in Kazakhstan, it is not so widely used because of a lack of infrastructure. There are a little more than 500 gas stations in the country, which is not enough.

To reduce import dependence, the energy ministry entered into a memorandum of understanding with KazMunayGas Processing and Marketing as well as Helios on cooperation on the use of gas as a motor fuel.

Besides, since 2010, KazTransGas has been working to get more vehicles on compressed natural gas. From 2010-2014, five gas filling stations were built in Almaty. Another three stations in Shymkent, Aktobe and Kyzylorda are being built.

A comprehensive action plan was approved by the energy ministry to support the development of environmentally friendly types of transport in Almaty and a task team is working out legislative amendments on the transition to a green economy.

It has been said in the media and cited by experts that incase of rapid growth in the demand for gas based motor fuels, Kazakhstan would soon run short. Are these fears grounded?

Motor gas fuel in Kazakhstan has been used for more than ten years, but unfortunately, consumers have been slow to adopt it. If we talk about volume, as of the end of last year, nearly 2.5 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas was produced. The slated production volume for this year is 2,547,000 tonnes. Consumption is projected at about 500,000 tonnes. Thus, we have a surplus of liquefied petroleum gas in the internal market, i.e. five times more of it is produced than consumed. These experts you speak of should know about this.

What does the future of Kazakhstan’s gas industry look like?

All the facts I have discussed speak for themselves. The gas industry is dynamically and systematically moving into the future.

The launch of the third Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline is expected to take place this year; also, the linear part of the main gas pipeline, the Beineu-Bozoi, which will provide access to over 300 populated communities in the Kyzylorda and South Kazakhstan regions and transport gas from the western to southern regions will be launched. Thus, domestic energy development prospects, especially those concerning gas, are very optimistic.

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