Kazakhstan became a petro-state in the 1990s, after signing important oil production agreements with several transnational companies. In recent years, Kazakhstan’s government has imposed the revision of former agreements on these corporations. This article contends that said revision has allowed the national players, government and the state oil company, to extend rent-seeking, but that the changes have not been deep enough to attain national oil empowerment. This means that national players do not control the oil cycle – from upstream to export trade – and are unable to secure continued expansion in the oil sector. Both key issues remain in the hands of the foreign companies, although their prominence has diversified following the entry of large Chinese and Russian companies.

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