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The former Kazakh prime minister, Nurlan Balgymbayev, has denied that Chinese companies dominate Kazakhstan's oil industry. Balgymbayev, who also headed the Kazakh national oil company Kazakhoil in the 1990s, said that the state only sold one oil company to the Chinese. All other Kazakhstan-based oil companies were bought by Chinese companies from private firms. "At first sight the list of companies bought by Chinese is impressive. But actually almost all of them are at the peak of extraction or with depleted oil reserves," Balgimbayev said in an interview with the Vremya newspaper on 11 March. He also specified that Chinese companies accounted for 22 per cent of the total oil output of Kazakhstan. Balgymbayev also dwelled on his decision to invite Timur Kulibayev, powerful son-in-law of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, to work in the oil industry. Kulibayev was Balgymbayev's deputy at the Kazakhoil company. Kulibayev currently holds the posts of deputy chairman of the Samruk-Kazyna national prosperity fund, and of chairman of the board of the KazMunayGaz national oil and gas company. Balgymbayev praised Kulibayev's contribution to the development of the Kazakh oil industry and said: "I have no regrets about my decision to ask Timur to work with me." The following is an excerpt from Balgymbayev's interview by privately-owned Kazakh newspaper Vremya website on 12 March; subheadings have been inserted editorially:
The subject of "Chinese invasion" has always figured in the Kazakh public opinion in one or another form. The transpiring of China's request to lease one million hectares of Kazakh land, in the wake of earlier statements to the effect that Kazakhstan was turning into an oil appendix of China, has had an effect of the last straw.
Therefore, when a letter from Lesbek Sakenov from Almaty reached our editorial office, we decided to turn to the story of Chinese investments in the Kazakh oil industry and published in one of the previous issues his question to three prominent figures in the oil and gas industry - to Nurlan Balgymbayev, who had been the head of the Oil and Gas Industry Ministry, the Kazakhoil national company and the Kazakh government, to Lyazzat Kiinov, previously a deputy minister of the oil and gas industry and the head of KazMunayGaz [national oil and gas company], who is now a deputy minister of energy and mineral resources; and to Balatbek Kuandykov, previously the head of the Kazakhstancaspiyshelf and Kazakhoil companies. The question was: "What do you think about the Chinese presence in Kazakhstan's oil and gas sector and where will our oil go?" Kiinov and Kuandykov have already responded to the reader. Today we publish an interview with yet another authoritative oil specialist, to whom Sakenov addressed his question.
A correspondent of the Vremya newspaper speaks to Nurlan Balgymbayev, head of a joint venture between Kazakhstan and the Agip international oil and gas concern, who has been recently appointed to this post. "Just a small correction - this not a joint venture as yet but a board of enterprises which are under construction," Balgymbayev specified. "In future this initiative might turn into several major projects and I am ready to …