Kazakh economy: course aimed at diversification

By Elena Kosolapova

According to the presidential decree, Kazakhstan began its transition to a "green economy" since the beginning of summer. According to the accepted concept, the country set a target to increase the share of alternative and renewable energy sources to 30 percent by 2030 and to 50 percent by 2050. Earlier, it was mentioned about the desire to develop the country's renewable energy sources. "Future energy" has been declared as the theme of "EXPO-2017" international exhibition. According to the topic, President Nazarbayev ordered to provide the "EXPO-2017" facilities with power at the expense of alternative energy sources.


On the one hand, the desire of improving the environmental situation in the country, reducing emissions and passing to more environmentally friendly production methods are not surprising. This is a global trend, to which all more or less developed countries are striving. On the other hand, Kazakhstan, having huge hydrocarbon reserves, has no urgent need to pass to alternative energy sources. The following question arises. What caused such a desire?


At present, stagnation is observed in the Kazakh oil sphere. The oil production has not been recently increased in the country. Moreover, the oil and gas condensate production decreased by 1.1 percent in Kazakhstan in 2012. In April, the Oil and Gas Ministry reduced oil production forecast for 2013-2015. A similar situation exists in the gas sector. As a result, the revenue forecast of Kazakhstan's budget was reduced.


The only field, which can ensure a significant boost to oil production in Kazakhstan now, is Kashagan. However, commissioning of this field has been postponed for several years. One can not firmly believe that the first oil from the field will be obtained in 2013. However, even if the first oil is obtained from Kashagan by the end of the year, according to the experts, one must not expect a sharp intensification of production in the near future.


Thus, Kazakhstan should rely not only on the income from the sale of hydrocarbons. The leadership's desire to diversify the economy is quite logical.


Kazakhstan's climatic conditions are quite favorable for the development of renewable energy sources. According to the Kazakh Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, the potential of the renewable energy sources in the country hits around 1 trillion kilowatt / hours per year. Moreover, the construction of a nuclear power plant will be launched in accordance with the presidential decree in the country in the coming years. The decision has been primarily dictated by the fact that Kazakhstan ranks first on uranium extraction, which is the main raw materials for nuclear power plants, in the world. The designers promise that the reactor will meet all safety standards and will not pose any threat to the ecology of the region.


Kazakhstan also intends to intensify the extraction of solid minerals. According to the presidential order, a moratorium on the development of such deposits was lifted in early 2013.


Moreover, Kazakhstan is taking actions for developing the previous quite unpopular sectors of the economy, in particular, tourism. For the first time this year, the country the participation of Kazakh tour operators, offering the inbound tourism to foreigners, at international tourism fairs. Moreover, in May Kazakhstan simplified the conditions for obtaining tourist visas to visit the country.


According to the information posted on the website of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, the new conditions are aimed at creating favorable conditions for foreign tourists, private and business entities to visit Kazakhstan. Moreover, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry told Trend earlier that the opportunity of temporary cancelling the visa regime for citizens of several developed countries is being considered to stimulate the development of tourism in the country.


All these measures clearly demonstrate the Kazakh leadership's commitment to rapidly diversify the country's economy. If all these ambitious plans are at least partially fulfilled, the dependence of the country's economy on the level of hydrocarbon production and the oil prices will be significantly reduced.