Kazakhstan has filed a claim for about KZT2.3trn ($5.1bn) from North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) for breaching environmental protocols at the Kashagan oil project, reported Bloomberg News.

The country’s Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry alleged that NCOC kept more than double the permitted sulphur amount on the Kashagan oil project site.

Located in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea, the Kashagan oil project is estimated to hold recoverable oil resources of approximately 9-13 billion barrels.

In its probe, the ministry found that the company indulged in environmental regulations violation.

This statement comes despite NCOC stating last month that it manages “production and storage of sulphur responsibly, and in accordance with the requirements of the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as in accordance with applicable standards and best practices”.

The environmental fine related to the Kashagan project comes as the government looks to gain greater control over the project’s operating company NCOC, a person privy to the development told Bloomberg News.

In 2022, the Kashagan oil field reduced its production to 50% for about two months because of a gas leak. Currently, the field is producing at full capacity, reported Reuters.

NCOC is a joint venture of the state-owned KazMunayGas (16.88%), Eni (16.81%), Shell (16.81%), ExxonMobil (16.81%), TotalEnergies (16.81%), CNPC (8.33%) and Inpex (7.56%).