The giant Kazakhstani oilfield, Kashagan, is one of the world’s biggest oil finds and the ‘biggest oil discovery’ of recent times . With the start of the project being delayed for 13 years (now the start date has been moved to 2016) due to several environment, legal, and investment-associated complications, it is also ‘the world’s most expensive standalone project’ . Despite such a grand amount of complications, the NCOC (North Caspian Operating Company, a consortium of international companies including Eni, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, CNPC (China) and Inpex(Japan)  is not giving up attempts to extract the vast deposits of the oilfield. The case history of Kashagan involves numerous conflicts, public hearings, as well as court cases. One of the major conflicts has been the impact of the oil field on the health of the local populations as well as on the fragile environment of the area.
Part of the oil field is located within a protected North Caspian Sea nature reserve (it was declared as such during the Soviet era and all hydrocarbon extractions were banned) with its unique biodiversity, including endangered Beluga sturgeon and the Caspian seal . According to the geologist Muftah Diarov, a few years back numerous birds were burnt as a result of Kashagan’s new processing plant operations and the public was not informed of that until several weeks later . Additionally, in September 2013, a major hydrogen sulphide (dangerous toxic gas found in large amount in the Kashagan oil)  leak occurred at the refinery as a result of a burst pipe, and the operating company flared 2.8 million cubic meters of sour gas, r. Ever since, the Kazakhstani ecological authorities have fined NCOC a sum of 737$ US million for large-scale damages to the environment, but the final decision has not been made to date  [September 2014].
Also, as a part of Production Sharing Agreement’s (PSA) required consultation with the public and all interested parties in March 2013   numerous concerns regarding the safety and accident prevention on the field were raised. Namely, what happens if mercaptans are discharged, where the polygons for storing liquid and hard waste are, if the rescue plane arrives in 72 hours after an accident what is going to happen to the spill in the meanwhile, why the NCOC ships will be present in the protected nature reserve area, will citizens experience further shortages of potable water, what compensation will be offered to the citizens, and many other vital questions . Specifically, local ecologists addressed the recurring issue of public access to information, as most of the environmental reports are not available to public and since 2006 residents have had limited to zero participation in the consultation . Several NGOs have published information on the inadequate to unlivable conditions, poor and deteriorating health, low level of income and inaccessibility to/ absence of infrastructure for population of nearby towns and settlements  . Numerous issues associated with the oilfield are still present. Nevertheless, the project is moving ahead. As Kazakhstan President N. Nazarbaev noted, ‘I am confident that despite escalating complications, we will be able to solve problems we face with the project’ .