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Kashagan Says Checks on Pipes to Be Completed by Early February

The partners in Kazakhstan’s largest oil field will wait for test results due by early February before making a decision on when to resume production.

“The date of the restart of production depends on the required repairs, which can only be assessed once the results of the crack analysis and the results of the PIG inspections are available,” North Caspian Operating Co., the Kashagan field’s operator, said by e-mail today. Both are expected by late January or early February, the company said. PIG refers to a probe used to assess the condition of the pipelines.

The field, where production began in September after being delayed several times from an original target of 2005, was producing about 60,000 barrels a day before a leak stopped output on Oct. 9.

The cost of developing Kashagan doubled from earlier estimates to $48 billion as oil companies drilled from a man-made island to unlock crude in a pressurized reservoir with a high concentration of poisonous sour gas.

NCOC said the inspection of the 90-kilometers (56-miles) long gas pipeline have been completed and the data is being interpreted.

During the inspections a limited presence of diesel was detected and the section of the oil pipeline was isolated and excavated, confirming the presence of a seep in the area of a weld, NCOC said.

The oil pipeline from D Island to the Bolashak onshore processing plant is currently being inspected by a PIG and the findings are expected in one month’s time, NCOC said.

Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Eni SpA each hold 16.81 percent in the project. Japan’s Inpex Corp. owns 7.56 percent. State-owned KazMunaiGaz National Co. retains 16.88 percent. China National Petroleum Corp. bought an 8.33 stake percent in September.

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