Russian leaders are hoping that the launch of the country’s first major Caspian Sea off-shore energy development project will re-invigorate the Kremlin’s overall oil-and-gas strategy for the region.
Russia’s paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, traveled to the southern Astrakhan region in late April to inaugurate Lukoil's offshore oil rig at the Korchagin deposit. Located about 180 kilometers from the city of Astrakhan, the deposit is estimated to contain nearly 30 million tons of oil and 63 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas. Over the past decade, Lukoil has discovered six deposits in the northern Caspian with total oil reserves estimated at 4.7 billion barrels. Lukoil plans to pump up to 30 million tons per year of oil and 20 bcm per year of gas by 2020.
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Sergei Blagov is a Moscow-based specialist in CIS political affairs.