Confused? Remember when Uzbekistan sold oil/gas exploration rights in the dried up crust of the Aral Sea to an international consortium? No?
Ergash Shaismatov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, announced on August 30, 2006, that the Uzbek government and an international consortium consisting of state-run Uzbekneftegaz, LUKoil Overseas, Petronas, Korea National Oil Corporation, andChina National Petroleum Corporation signed a production sharing agreement to explore and develop oil and gas fields in the Aral Sea, saying, “The Aral Sea is largely unknown, but it holds a lot of promise in terms of finding oil and gas. There is risk, of course, but we believe in the success of this unique project.” The consortium was created in September 2005.
If you want my opinion, this is probably not unqualified good news for anyone in Karakalpakistan. And probably for very few in Uzbekistan, even though Uzbekneftegaz is taking in 50% of the find per agreement. I’m no export on oil/gas exports, but it seems this wasn’t the easiest area to work in. Surprise surprise – you mean the rotting corpse of the world’s fourth largest lake, one of the world’s greatest ecological crimes [though BP is going for number one in the Gulf of Mexico] isn’t a pleasant place to make your living?
“We drilled deeper than three kilometers to pinpoint the location of gas over the past few months around the Aral Sea. We extracted a total of 500,000 cubic meters of natural gases as of June 1,” an MKE official said.
From what I can get from the interwebs, that’s not as deep as it sounds. Chevron has a rig in the Gulf of Mexico pumping oil from 5 miles below the seabed. When I read that, my first thought was, “Must be a bitch to separate out the magma and Mole Men.”
Uzbekistan is not alone in looking at the potential of the Aral Sea; in January 2006 Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGaz and Ukraine’s Naftogaz Ukrayiny signed a memorandum of mutual understanding to analyze the potential of the Kulandy structure in Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea sector toward a possibility of joint exploration work.
That’s from a 2007 article full of misconceptions and bizarre conclusions about the Aral Sea [repeating ad nauseum the Western idea of problem solving, i.e. give Karimov and Nazarbayev more money!]. It does point out that there’s still a possibility that the disaster of the Aral Sea could be compounded by oil spills and gas leaks, even in the Little Aral in Kazakhstan.
Oh well. What could possibly go wrong?