Kazakhstan set to up natural gas production by 32% in two years
ASTANA. March 15. KAZINFORM. Kazakhstan plans to increase its natural gas production 32% by 2009, to 35.7 billion cubic meters, a government source said Thursday. The former-Soviet republic currently produces 27 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, and 98% of this volume is produced in the west of the country, while only 2% is produced in southern regions. "Kazakhstan's gas potential has not been fully exploited," Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov said at a government session dedicated to the development of the electricity and natural gas sectors. The premier described previous efforts to develop the country's natural gas sector as insufficient, and ordered that a special working group to tackle the issue be formed. In terms of gas production, Kazakhstan ranks fifteenth in the world, and fourth among the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose alliance of former-Soviet republics. It has estimated gas reserves of over 2 trillion cubic meters. However, despite its considerable estimated reserves, the Central Asian country fails to meet its domestic demand for natural gas through lack of necessary infrastructure, Kazinform refers to RIA Novosti.