Kazakhstan is now in the midst of a comprehensive re-evaluation of its export options. The strategies and choices open to Astana concerning international energy development must be seen in the perspective of the difficult political and economic problems facing the country's leadership. This week begins a multi-part article on Kazakhstan and international energy development. This four-part article begins here with a review of the political geography of Kazakhstan's economy and an assessment of why China cannot be the preferred export solution.
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Three weeks ago, the first article in this series discussed how the economic and physical geography of Kazakhstan has constrained and conditioned President Nursultan Nazarbaev's choices for export routes for Tengiz oil. It gave a series of reasons why the once highly-touted route to Xinjiang province in western China was unlikely to be constructed. It also observed that although earlier this year Almaty set this autumn as a time by which a definitive choice of an export route should be made, it was just as likely that no such decision would be in fact taken. Events over the last three weeks appear to confirm that no definitive choice will soon be made. The principal reason is the opening of new possible export routes. The present article discuses these developments and why have occurred.
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