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WSJ: How a Giant Kazakh Oil Project Went Awry

Authors: Selina Williams, Geraldine Amiel, and Justin Scheck
March 31, 2014

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"To replace what they pump, oil companies need to collaborate with state-owned companies that control 90% of the globe's remaining oil reserves, by a World Bank estimate. But governments often give foreign oil companies access only to the hardest-to-develop acreage. Kashagan's large-scale stumble shows how collaborations in these difficult fields can go sour for both sides."

ATYRAU, Kazakhstan—Kazakh workers were recuperating from the frigid temperatures of the Caspian Sea over cups of tea when their Italian supervisor interrupted their break, demanding they return to work.

The workers restrained the supervisor—a manager working for Eni ENI.MI +0.17% SpA, a company building a giant oil development here—and put a plastic bag over his head. He fled, packed his bags and left Kazakhstan.

The spat was a brief episode yet emblematic of the endless challenges that have hobbled a project once hailed as the dawn of a new era in cooperation between oil-rich countries and Western companies.

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