NCOC Marine Support Base
Bautino / Mangystau Province
The importance of Bautino port has significantly grown over the last few years as a result of new oil discovery – the Kashagan field, which target production of oil is 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, which would put Kazakhstan among the world's biggest producers of oil. At the same time the field is, in words of Claudio Descalzi, the chief operating officer for exploration and production at ENI, a very "complex reservoir". The project is almost 9 years behind the original schedule already and first oil is not expected until 2016. The oil contains very high concentration (15%) of poisonous hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and it is highly pressurized due to the considerable depth of the rig.
The construction of Bautino base (MSB) began in 1998. The port became logistical hub for the offshore oil industry in the Kazakh sector of The Caspian and the safe harbour for vessels during the long cold winters. The base is operated by the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC, the oil consortium of several members: ENI, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, CNPC, Inpex and KMG). MSB is a bottleneck for all sea projects (food, wastewater treatment, sludge, waste management, packaging, industrial waste, pipes, etc.). There are facilities on the territory of 110 ha, including 5000 m2 of office spaces, warehouses, workshops, ports and landfills.
The management states that many of the employees have experience from solving Tashigali – Tengiz oil spill. The MSP did not give a clear answer concerning cleaning of the animals affected by possible oil spill. Also no system of involvement of coastal areas residents to oil spills mitigation is created (as it is at Alaska, for example, where all inhabitants know how to react to the oil spills, and are ready to come and help to save especially affected animals).
The northern part of the Caspian Sea used to be a nature reserve and is a very sensitive environmental area with abundant and diverse fauna and flora, including a number of endemic species and the endangered species like sturgeon, kilka or Caspian seal. This mix of harsh conditions makes the extraction of oil potentially dangerous for the NCOC workers, inhabitants of the area and for the fragile ecosystem in the Caspian. Although, the ENI officials state that they work hard to prevent and minimize any impacts on the environment that their operations may have.