The Government of Kazakhstan has initiated arbitration proceedings against the consortium developing its Kashagan and Karachaganak oilfields for claims worth $16.5bn.

According to Interfax, Kazakhstan Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliyev said: “The authorised government body in the person of the PSA companies have filed lawsuits in international arbitration against the Karachaganak and Kashagan companies.”

These have been filed “in the interests of the people of Kazakhstan,” Satkaliyev added.

Earlier, citing sources, Bloomberg reported that operators of the said oilfields in Kazakhstan were accused of unauthorised spending.

Specifically, the Kazakh government believes that operators should not deduct expenses amounting to $13bn for Kashagan and $3.5bn for Karachaganak as part of profit-sharing deals.

According to the sources, the government has designated arbitrators to hear the Kashagan and Karachaganak cases in Geneva and Stockholm, respectively.

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Kashagan is regarded as one of the biggest oil fields to have been discovered in recent decades.

Eni, Shell, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, KazMunayGas, Inpex and CNPC are developing this project.

Meanwhile, Karachaganak, which is also claimed to have a sizable amount of oil and gas, is being operated by Karachaganak Petroleum Operating.

Through its 100% affiliated firm BG Karachaganak, Shell holds a 29.25% share in the Karachaganak project, followed by Eni at 29.25%, Chevron at 18%, Lukoil at 13.5%, and KazMunayGas at 10%.

According to the terms of the production-sharing agreements, if the Kazakh government is successful, it might get a bigger cut of the profits from the fields.