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Trouble on the steppe

Major new investment in Tengiz cannot mask deeper problems in Kazakhstan

AS a vote of confidence in the Kazakh oil sector it is hard to beat. On 5 July, Chevron and its partners in the 0.6m-barrel-a-day Tengiz project in the Caspian sea said they would spend another $36.8bn to add anoth­er 260,000 b/d of output from the field by 2022. Forget the oil-price slump, the project is one of the largest to be sanctioned in the past 10 years. After years of troubled prog­ress and mixed deadlines at Kazakhstan's other major oil project, Kashagan, the Ten­giz news was especially welcome in Astana. Yet for all the fanfare around the Tengiz an­nouncement, Kazakhstan is in a state of flux, and its politics dangerous. The central Asian state, which holds the world's eleventh l

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