On January 23, 2024 online conference on Kazakhstan-Chinese energy cooperation took place, which have become an important step towards the development of international cooperation in the energy sector among research and analytical centers of Kazakhstan and China. The event was organized by the Institute of Energy Research of the State Electric Grid Corporation (China), China Studies Centre (Kazakhstan) , and the Alliance of Energy Analytical Centers in the field of Energy Silk Road (China) on “Common opportunities, common choice”.


In addition, the conference was attended by representatives of the Institute of Economic and Technological Research of the State Xinjiang Electric Power Company, experts from the Institute of Energy Internet Research of Tsinghua University, as well as the Deputy Mayor of Wensu County, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.


The virtual conference commenced with warm greetings from the organizers and host representatives of the energy sector. Wang Guanghui, General Director of the Energy Research Institute of the State Grid Corporation PRC, and Gulnar Shaimergenova, Director of the China Studies Centre, delivered opening remarks, highlighting the significance of collaboration in the energy sector among think tanks and research centers.


We are glad to see that the construction of New Kazakhstan has begun in full force and that Kazakhstan is taking steps to become one of the 30 most developed countries in the world. China is willing to continue to share development achievements with Kazakhstan and learn from each other’s development experiences. The doors of openness and friendly cooperation of China will always be open for Kazakhstan” stated Mr. Wang Guanghu in his welcoming speech. “Currently, energy cooperation between China and Kazakhstan primarily manifests itself in oil trade and natural gas cooperation, with Kazakhstan serving as a transit country for the China-Central Asia gas pipeline. There is opportunity to further expand energy cooperation between the two countries in the field of clean energy, cooperation in energy infrastructure such as electricity grids and oil and gas pipelines, including improvements and modernization, as well as digital transformation of energy infrastructure. Diversification of supply chains is necessary for a quality energy transition” added the CEO. In addition, Mr. Wang emphasized the cultural aspect of energy cooperation and close the relationship between providing energy, well-being and happiness to people, citing as an example the words of the great thinker and philosopher al-Farabi: “Only by making concerted efforts can people achieve happiness. People can improve themselves only through cooperation and mutual assistance. Therefore, uniting like-minded people with a noble moral spirit is the most important way to ensure happiness” thereby making it clear to all participants that the development of the energy sector of both countries depends on many factors.


Conversely, Gulnar Shaimergenova, Director of the Center for the Study of China, conveyed her appreciation in her opening address to the co-organizers of the virtual conference. She expressed gratitude for the chance to assemble experts from the energy industry and representatives of research institutes from both countries, fostering discussions on potential cooperation in the energy sector: “China is a long-standing and stable energy partner of Kazakhstan. Today, energy cooperation covers several areas: from the production and development of hydrocarbon fields to the construction of infrastructure, from nuclear energy to the introduction of the latest technologies in the field of renewable energy generation. China first entered the Kazakh hydrocarbon market in 1997, when two important intergovernmental agreements were signed with CNPC on cooperation in the field of oil and gas and on the construction of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline. In 2004, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) entered into an agreement with Kazatomprom on long-term uranium production until 2020. This agreement included a strategic partnership between China and Kazakhstan in the field of nuclear energy. During the cooperation, two important pipelines for transporting energy resources were built, including an oil pipeline and a gas pipeline“- she stated.


According to the Director of the China Studies Centre, energy cooperation is becoming a key component of the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. Partners can also consider building gas pipelines and cross-border energy networks, enhance interconnectivity, and jointly develop the Oil and Gas Silk Road, the Electricity Silk Road, and the Green Energy Silk Road. “Electricity security is also of paramount importance. Governments need to find ways to ensure cooperation on energy storage and availability, while encouraging innovation and technology transfer. The Center for China Studies is ready to strengthen and expand cooperation in the field of energy between Kazakhstan and China through consultations, implementation of joint projects and research, and participation in international conferences”.


Further with his report, Mr. Miao Zhonchuan , Senior Researcher, Institute of Energy Research, State Electric Grid Corporation China provided a comprehensive overview of energy security and various aspects of China’s energy transition , proposed strategies for China-Kazakhstan energy cooperation, and ways for research institutions to collaborate in the field of energy research.


In turn, Abzal Narymbetov, Kazakh business analyst, author of telegrams for the Energy Analytics channel, expert of the Society of Petroleum Estimating Engineers (SPEE) made a presentation on the topic “Kazakhstan as an Energy Hub for China and Europe”, giving a brief tour of the domestic oil and gas sector, the largest oil exporting countries and Kazakhstan’s share in oil production. Conference participants were also able to get acquainted with existing and potential transport routes for Kazakh oil and gas products. The analyst presented a SWOT analysis of Kazakhstan’s oil sector to acquaint the conference participants with key insights.


Kazakh sinologist Anton Bugaenko, head of the Chinese studies program of the Eurasian Association for International Studies, also shared his vision of the circumstances in the energy sector of the two countries. “As a sinologist, I wanted to concentrate on the interaction between China and Kazakhstan in the oil sector. Naturally, the oil and gas sector is the cornerstone of the economic basis in relations between the countries of Central Asia, and in particular Kazakhstan and China. Central Asia attracted the attention of China back in the 90s precisely because of its rich resources. This interest on the part of China is stable; a number of projects have been implemented. In Kazakhstan, Chinese companies account for, according to various estimates, 20-25% of oil production. Chinese companies entered the Kazakh oil market in 1997, when CNPC acquired shares of Aktobemunaigas and invested more than 10 billion US dollars over 25 years. It is worth noting here that these were mostly old deposits that had already exhausted their resources. And here, Chinese companies have really had to introduce new technologies using new approaches and technologies”. The expert emphasized that Chinese investors focus on a long-term approach and modernization of technological processes.


Further in her speech, Aliya Musabekova, chief expert of the Asian Studies Department of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, explained the key aspects relevant to energy cooperation and noted that “The energy sector is quite well developed in Kazakhstan, the country does not experience a shortage of energy resources, there are large power plants, a working system of electrical networks. Therefore, in the context of ensuring the country’s energy security, we face two tasks: in interaction with external partners, diversification of export routes is necessary; in the domestic market, diversification of energy sources is necessary”. The chief expert also noted that existing challenges and potential risks in the energy sector of both countries can serve as a subject for cooperation. For example, the expert noted several important, in her opinion, areas that Kazakh experts would like to get acquainted with, for example, issues and steps to modernize outdated power plants, issues regarding the development of tariff policy, energy transition towards green technologies, diversification of energy sources.


The Expert gave an equally interesting report Energy Research Institute of the State Grid Corporation of China, Mr. Wang Lingyu. The expert shared his opinion that there is a need to develop the SCO Energy Club to harmonize energy strategies and effectively manage energy processes since there is proximity, many common factors that bring countries together, and the need for a coordinated approach to energy issues instead of disparate initiatives in Central Asia. In addition, the Institute has conducted several studies on the energy corridors of Russia, Kazakhstan and China, and in the field of carbon neutrality.


Today’s conference marks the commencement of a dynamic exchange of ideas, fostering a deeper understanding of shared interests and potential collaborations in energy and culture between Kazakhstan and China. The topics covered encompassed crucial aspects such as energy security, well-being linked to energy, energy transition, energy storage, carbon dioxide emission reduction, and the promotion of environmentally friendly and renewable energy sources.


Considering China’s advancements in fundamental research, collaboration with China in the energy sector has the potential to be a cornerstone in our country’s technological renewal. Hence, the significance of high-quality cooperation between nations within the framework of the Energy Belt and Road is more pertinent than ever.


In summary, the Kazakh-China Energy Cooperation Conference emerged as a pivotal event, uniting experts and stakeholders from both nations to explore common opportunities and make informed decisions for sustainable energy development. The conference outcomes lay the groundwork for future cooperation, reflecting the principles of shared responsibility and mutual benefit in an ever-evolving energy landscape.