Responsibility Is Paramount
Over the past few years Kazakhstan has, thanks to the rapid development of its economy, turned into one of the leading countries in both Central Asia and the CIS. The policy pursued by the country’s leadership to attract foreign investors to develop fuel and energy resources is playing an important role in achieving this outstanding result. One of the first Western companies to show an interest in Kazakhstan’s energy potential was BG Group, a recognised leader in prospecting, extracting and processing gas.
Implementing large-scale projects in 20 countries, BG Group regards Kazakhstan as one of the six core geographic areas of its operations, and is a major British investor in our country. It has a holding in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which supplies Kazakh oil to world markets, and is a co-operator in the giant Karachaganak field, with a 32.5% interest in it. Karachaganak hydrocarbons accounted for 19% of the company’s total output in 2005.
A distinctive feature of BG Group’s operations is that it has the highest standards in terms of corporate and social responsibility, and these are regarded as a central element of its business. In 2005 alone, BG Group’s social spending in the countries in which it operates totalled about $6.5m. Our country was no exception.
Investment in the Future
Investment in education is believed to be the most secure investment in the future, which is why BG Group was one of the first major foreign companies operating in Kazakhstan to start training highly-qualified specialists for the national oil and gas sector. As a result, the company is taking a most active part in supporting the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU), which has managed to claim the status of the country’s leading “oil” university in the five years since it was set up. This is no accident because the Robert Gordon University, Heriot Watt University and Westminster University are all offering it educational and consultancy services. In 2006, BG Kazakhstan, part of BG Group, funded the purchase and installation of video-conferencing equipment for KBTU. This will make it possible to carry out distance learning, enabling British professors to lecture to and communicate with Kazakh students online. Quickly obtaining new knowledge about the latest research in the sphere of oil and gas technology will improve the competence and proficiency of KBTU graduates. In addition, this equipment will be used to hold enhanced training courses for staff from oil and gas companies.
In February 2006, using funds from BG, a group of local scientists started creating a national IT system called the BG Education and Career Guidance Programme. As a specialised Internet portal, the programme will be accessible both online and on data carriers. The system helps people to find necessary information about a certain speciality. This will enable school leavers to receive a fuller picture about the professional careers available and adjust their choices accordingly. This is important because the choice of profession affects the rest of one’s life. The programme also offers the advantage that one of its components is an additional education programme that interactively presents new professional skills to trainees.
Caring for Children
Another important and necessary BG Kazakhstan initiative that successfully combines the solution of social problems and professional training is their support for orphans. Children from orphanages and boarding schools often face difficulties because no-one “expects” them on the job market. Unfortunately, it has become a dire practice to hire orphans to do less prestigious jobs, the demand for which is quite insignificant in our country.
That is precisely why BG Kazakhstan has assumed part of the care of these children. In 2004, the company developed a nine-month course to train children from Uralsk’s Zhas Dauren orphanage in computer, Kazakh and English-language skills. In 2005, 37 children from this orphanage received the first certificates and the best trainee of the programme, Sholpan Nugmanova, received a special grant from BG Kazakhstan and is now doing her first year at the Eurasia Institute’s Translation Department in Uralsk. In spring 2006, a further 39 high-school pupils finished this education programme and this time Gulnara Dzhakiyeva and Taisiya Savicheva won grants. This year BG Kazakhstan increased the number of grants to three.
Environment is in Focus
As one of the main extractive companies in Kazakhstan, BG Kazakhstan is constantly caring for our country’s environmental well-being. In the past 12 years the company has been funding the Almaty Power-Engineering and Telecommunications Institute’s Environmental Technology Department. This department’s research significantly improves Kazakhstan’s environmental protection.
One of the department’s largest projects is to eliminate the contamination of the Irtysh river near Pavlodar with mercury caused by the Khimprom production association’s activities. In 2003, experts drafted a programme to eliminate mercury contamination (about 1,310 tonnes of mercury) and the whole work to this effect was completed in 2004. Simultaneously, the department’s specialists drafted the Post-Mercury Contamination Monitoring Programme for 2005-2020, which is designed to assess the residual risk of contamination and address whether the measures taken are adequate. The department’s scientific expedition is currently working in Pavlodar to study the current state of mercury contamination of underground waters using a mobile laboratory equipped with a British-made mercury analyser. It has a sensitivity of up to 4 nanograms of mercury per litre of water, and this equipment is capable of establishing mercury traces even if their concentration is 100 times lower than the maximum permissible level.
Economic growth in Kazakhstan means that there has been significant growth in water usage for industrial purposes. Water is turning into a precious, and sometimes scarce, resource which can and should be recycled. The only problem is that it is hard to find a cheap and efficient method of recycling sewage. In solving this problem, specialists from the Environmental Technology Department were the first to carry out systemic seasonal research into the biocenosis of a water layer using experimental biological ponds as models. The research showed that using biological ponds to recycle sewage is not only effective but also that this water is suitable for watering. This work became the basis for creating a computer-simulated kinetic model to design biological ponds for a continental climate for the first time.
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