Protest demonstrations across the country over a gas price hike have caused the oil prices to go up amid fears of supply interruptions.
Unrest in OPEC+ member Kazakhstan has pushed up oil prices as investors fear supply interruptions, but the uranium market appears less affected despite the Central Asian country being the world’s second-largest producer.
“Riots obviously can stop production and exports,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, an analyst at Swedish bank SEB, on Sunday.
Over the week, crude prices gained about five percent and on Friday Brent exceeded $83 per barrel, “putting it at its highest level since the price slide triggered by the first appearance of the Omicron variant in late November,” said Carsten Fritsch, commodities analyst at Commerzbank.
Protests spread across the country of 19 million this week in outrage over a New Year increase in prices for liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which many use to fuel cars.
The country is the largest oil producer in central Asia with a twelfth of the world’s proven reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Kazakhstan produced around 1.8 million barrels a day in 2020.
The country is also the second-largest oil producer in the OPEC+ group of top oil producers, behind Russia.
Hydrocarbons made up 21 percent of its GDP in 2020, according to the World Bank.
A who’s who of the unrest in Kazakhstan
‘Bullish in the short-term’
Production by Tengizchevroil, the largest oil venture in Kazakhstan, “has been temporarily adjusted as a result of protests at the Tengiz field”, said Stephen Brennock of PVM brokerage.
But several analysts said there was no indication that oil production had been seriously affected.
On Friday, production at the country’s top three fields was “said to be continuing”, said Brennock.
“Unrest in Kazakhstan is bullish in the short-term,” said Neil Wilson, an analyst at Markets.com.
At close of trading on Friday, crude oil prices had fallen slightly, with Brent falling 0.28 percent to $81.76 and West Texas Intermediate down 0.54 percent at $79.03.
Uranium mines ‘largely unaffected’
Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth-largest country, is rich in manganese, iron, chrome and coal.
It also has the world’s second most significant uranium reserves behind Australia, according to the Cyclope annual report on commodities, accounting for 40 percent of the world’s output, according to CRU consulting group.
Toktar Turbay, an analyst at CRU, said the current crisis is “just likely to create minor discomfort rather than anything else”, since the largest customer China has accumulated enough uranium to cover its needs in the short term.
Kazakhstan’s uranium mines are located in remote areas of its southern Turkestan region, which is “largely unaffected by ongoing protests and clashes within the country”, the analyst said.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies