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Kazakhstan and the EU: Common interest in energy security

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the European Union has worked hard to find alternatives to Russian energy. For decades and until the third quarter of 2022, Russia was the Union’s biggest oil supplier. It was the source of more than 25 percent of the EU’s hydrocarbon imports and was Germany’s largest overall energy supplier. Diversification has been no easy task given the scale of the dependency, but impressively, Russia’s share has been reduced to 10 percent.

The United States’ share has increased at Russia’s expense. Suppliers such as Kazakhstan, which account for 8 percent of the EU’s oil imports, have maintained their existing share but are eying a greater presence in the European market. Kazakhstan’s oil imports to the EU increased by nearly 900 percent between 2000 and 2021, and in recent years, it has become the third-largest supplier of oil to the European Union after Russia and Norway.

Facts & figures

  • Kazakhstan is the largest country in Central Asia and the ninth-largest in the world.
  • It is bordered on the northwest and north by Russia, on the east by China, and the south by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea, and Turkmenistan; the Caspian Sea borders Kazakhstan to the southwest.
  • The Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline is one of the world’s longest and part of an extensive overland oil transport network. It began operation in 1964 and carries oil from Russia to Austria, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.
  • Kazakhstan is the 13th-largest oil producer in the world but the second-largest oil producer after Russia among the former Soviet republics.
  • Kazakhstan holds some 1.7% of the world’s known oil reserves. They are 12 in the world in size but the second-largest after Russia among the former Soviet Republics.
  • The Kashagan is the largest known oil field outside the Middle East and the fifth-largest in the world regarding reserves.
  • Ethnic Russians comprise some 16 percent of Kazakhstan’s 19 million population.
  • Of Germany’s trade with the countries of Central Asia, about 85% is with Kazakhstan.