Kazakhstan Seeks New Oil Export Routes After Russia Suspends Caspian Pipeline

(Reuters) — Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Thursday told his government to diversify its oil supply routes, a day after a Russian court ordered the Caspian Pipeline Consortium to suspend activity for 30 days.

A halt to the pipeline, which carries oil from Kazakhstan's vast Tengiz Field across Russia to the Black Sea, would strain the oil market just as it faces one of the worst supply crunches since the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s.

Tokayev, who has sought to balance relations with Russia, the West and China, ordered a study into building a pipeline across the Caspian Sea, a previously proposed project that would carry Kazakh oil to Europe while bypassing Russia.

Tokayev said that improving port infrastructure on the Caspian Sea was a "strategic task" for Kazakhstan's government, the presidential website said. He did not mention the Caspian Pipeline Consortium according to the website.

Heavily dependent on fossil fuels, Kazakhstan is reliant on Russian pipelines for oil exports to Europe.

On Wednesday, a court in the Russian city of Novorossiisk ordered the CPC pipeline, which handles around 1% of global oil, to suspend operations, citing issues related to oil spills. 

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