Energy and natural resources in Kazakhstan

Dentons

As a recognised leader in the energy and natural resources sector in Kazakhstan, Dentons primarily focuses on mining and oil and gas issues. Highly experienced managing partner Aigoul Kenjebayeva leads the group and acts for oil and gas companies and governments on various high-profile oil and gas matters including upstream, midstream and pipeline acquisitions, greenfield project structuring work and product sales arrangements. Victoria Simonova handles energy projects including oil and gas projects and pipeline matters; while counsel Daniyar Toigonbaev advises on power and natural resources projects, and senior associate Ruslan Nurbekov specialises in M&A and commercial issues.

Practice head(s):

Aigoul Kenjebayeva

Testimonials

One of the best teams in Kazakhstan capable to handle complex matters in a very efficient way.’

Abai Shaikenov is a great lawyer with a perfect level of diligence, integrity and problem-solving approach.

Key clients

Lukoil

Shell Kazakhstan Development

Access Infra Central Asia

International Company for Water and Power Projects

Work highlights

  • Advised Russian energy corporation Lukoil on deals totalling $270m.
  • Conducted legal due diligence for Shell Kazakhstan Development on two renewable energy projects.
  • Advised Access Infra Central Asia on its acquisition of a wind power project in South Kazakhstan.

GRATA International

GRATA International focuses on downstream and upstream matters in the oil and gas sector, and the practice also uses its 'strategic thinking' to handle complex mining M&A work. Almat Daumov is head of the natural resources team and has extensive experience acting for oil and gas, mining, petrochemical and services companies, while Baizhan Bekzhanov oversees the group's mining work and also advises large international companies on issues in the oil sector. Other noteworthy individuals include Yerzhan Yessimkhanov, who is a key contact for international clients and assists with issues relating to oil and gas and mining projects, M&A work, EPC contracts and commercial agreements; and Maxim Burak, who advises clients in the oil and gas industry on subsoil use and corporate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Almat Daumov; Baizhan Bekzhanov

Testimonials

Excellent team, with good communication, and quality advice. A pleasure to deal with.’

The team is very close-knit and communicates very well internally across different specialisations. This allows GRATA to leverage all of their abilities to deliver for their clients.

In our opinion, one of the most competent companies in advising users of the subsoil in Kazakhstan. Extensive experience and diverse practice distinguishes from a number of other companies in this industry.

GRATA’s team provides excellent service. Fast, to the point, with a lot of legal but also commercial sense and background knowledge. The team is pleasant to work with, and very professional.

We worked with the GRATA team before and we were highly satisfied with the quality of their works, so we thought that GRATA could handle our issues in the best way in terms of time, quality and money. GRATA always completed the works quickly within their estimation of time required, we feel grateful about this especially when we got urgent issues, and more importantly, the works were still completed with high quality. GRATA is the best firm we have ever engaged in Kazakhstan.’

Maxim Burak and Almat Daumov are exceptional lawyers on the intricacies of Kazakhstan sub surface law. Subject-matter experts but also advisors in the classic sense where guidance is constructive and business accretive.

Almat Daumov, Baizhan Bekzhanov, Maxim Burak have a high level of competence in the problems of subsoil users. They have professionalism, experience and the ability to think outside the box for decision making.’

Almat Daumov: great technical lawyer with a lot of commercial and business sense and great interpersonal skills, which is a great asset when doing large transactions. Really excellent to work with.

Key clients

Xingling Petroleum Pte

Nord Gold

Dietsmann

Coalco

CNPC

Rio Tinto

Central Asia Gold

Devonian Petroleum Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for Xingling Petroleum, a leading Singaporean oil company holding significant oil assets in Kazakhstan, in a dispute between its shareholders.
  • Advised Sinopec Engineering on the turnkey EPC contract for the modernisation of the Atyrau Refinery, one of the largest refineries in Central Asia and Kazakhstan.
  • Advised Brendt LLP on an addendum to a subsoil use contract relating to the extension of the production period.

Kinstellar LLP

Kinstellar LLP is active in the energy and natural resources sectors, and has a strong reputation, which attracts a high-profile list of blue-chip clients in the oil and gas, mining, and conventional and renewable power generation industries. The team was recently strengthened by the arrival of group head Almas Zhaiylgan from Dentons in 2018, who is an expert in a range of energy and natural resources work. Joel Benjamin has experience in corporate and commercial deals, while Lena Makarenko focuses on subsoil, energy, M&A, project finance, capital markets and corporate law mandates.

Practice head(s):

Almas Zhaiylgan

Testimonials

Kinstellar has one of the strongest and experienced corporate teams in Kazakhstan. They are always very commercial and responsive to client’s needs, even under tight deadlines. This makes them very reliable.’

After working with a few other firms on a long-running and drama-filled matter, Kinsteller was able to provide an international-level of service while getting the deal to a relatively swift and positive conclusion. Very responsive, knowledgeable and professional.

Joel Benjamin, partner, and Assel Mussina, senior associate, were a great combination combining an understanding of an international client’s concerns with local know-how and a positive attitude.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is one of the leading firms in the energy and natural resources sector in Kazakhstan, and is primarily noted for its work on energy and infrastructure projects, M&A and joint ventures. The practice is also active in EBRD-led financings. The highly experienced Aset Shyngyssov heads up the Kazakhstan energy practice, and handles notable transactions in the oil and gas and energy sectors, while fellow co-head Klara Nurgaziyeva focuses on energy projects and M&A. The group is further supported by lawyers in London, Moscow and China.

Practice head(s):

Aset Shyngyssov; Klara Nurgaziyeva

Key clients

EBRD

Eni SpA

GE

Smape SRL

River Acquisition B.V.

Petrokazakhstan and CNPC

Work highlights

  • Advised EBRD on the execution of financing and security documents in a deal valued at $60m.
  • Advised ShalkiyaZinc on the financing of the construction of an enrichment factory in the Kyzforda region.
  • Advised EBRD on an amendment to a loan relating to a 100MW hydropower plant.

Unicase Law Firm

Unicase Law Firm advises the government of Kazakhstan and large national and international companies on a range of issues relating to the energy and natural resources sectors, and has notable experience in de-risking renewable energy investments. The practice regularly assists companies with alternative energy projects, and handles environmental liability and compliance issues. Saniya Perzadayeva is an expert in infrastructure and PPP projects, energy and renewables issues, and banking and finance work. Group head Raushana Chaltabayeva has experience in traditional and renewable energy issues, green economy developments, and infrastructure and PPP regulations.

Practice head(s):

Raushana Chaltabayeva

Testimonials

The Unicase team is actively involved in advising on legislative improvements and assist both the regulatory authorities and the private sector on the possible expected complexities and opportunities that may arise as the result of such changes.’

The firm is very widely known for their timely approach and high professionalism.

I would like to note the professionalism of Raushana Chaltabayeva. She helps to find the optimal solutions.

I worked with Raushana Chaltabayeva, Partner. She proves herself as being knowledgeable of various sectors, up to date, proactive, a strong professional and always ready to provide alternative schemes and views on the raised issues.’

Key clients

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation

Ecoinvest S A LLP

GMCS, a.s.

Havelock Mining Holdings (HK) Ltd.

Risen Energy (HK) Co. Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised DNV GL Energy Advisory on the development of financing mechanisms to support small-scale renewables projects.
  • Advised Total Eren on its acquisition, construction and operation of M-KAT Green, a 100MW solar photovoltaic power plant in Kazakhstan.
  • Advised Risen Energy (Hong Kong) on its acquisition of a local SPV, which is developing the Gulshat solar project in Kazakhstan.

AEQUITAS

AEQUITAS provides advice to clients across a diverse range of matters including labour and antitrust issues and subsoil user procurement mandates. The group has recently added several Chinese clients to its roster and is regularly instructed on market entry reviews of projects in the renewable energy sector. Managing partner Olga Chentsova and Natalya Braynina jointly lead the practice, and advise clients in the oil and gas and natural resources sectors.

Practice head(s):

Olga Chentsova; Natalya Braynina

Work highlights

  • Advised a Chinese investor on its acquisition of a controlling share in TNG Holding.
  • Handled the pre-sale due diligence of major oil assets including a number of oil and gas fields.
  • Advised on applicable subsoil and subsoil use legislation, and assisted with the due diligence of a subsoil user company, which holds the right to develop a major strategic oil field.

AGZ / Zan Hub

Headquartered in Nur-Sultan, AGZ / Zan Hub specialises in cross-border transactions, infrastructure projects and renewable energy issues in Kazakhstan. The group has handled the due diligence for thermal, hydroelectric and wind power generators, and also advised on PPA, EPC, fuel supply, financing and security documents. Madiyar Bekturganov and senior associate Altynay Mambetalina have acted on a number of projects in the renewable energy sector; they recently assisted EBRD with its first project finance transaction relating to the construction of the Burnoye solar power plant.

Practice head(s):

Madiyar Bekturganov; Altynay Mambetalina

Testimonials

We worked with Zan Hub on our first assignment in Kazakhstan and they were able to guide us easily through the Kazakh legal system, and provided concise and clear advice, and were also very familiar with the legal issues – both within the Kazakh legal system and the likely responses from Government. The firm also provided lengthy translations and assisted with meetings where the Government proposed to conduct proceedings in Russian.’

Zan Hub team showed full engagement in the project and professional expertise. They helped us in all matters, not only related to project, but also in general business of our company.’

We worked with Madiyar Bekturganov and found his advice to be both prompt, good quality and concise.

Key clients

European Bank of Reconstruction and Development

Asian Development Bank

UGEL

JSC Kazakhstan Nuclear Electric Stations

VK REK JSC

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Asian Develop Bank and Astana municipality with the development of a bankable structure for the extension of the wastewater treatment facilities with biogas production facilities.
  • Advised ERBD on its review of the template power purchase agreement relating to electricity generated by renewable energy sources.
  • Advised Baiterek Venture Fund on its acquisition of a stake in the Baikonour Solar project.

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP advises the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan on a wide range of issues in the oil and gas sector, and has led complex negotiations with international oil companies relating to the Kashagan and Karachaganak oil and gas fields. Askar Moukhitdinov oversees all work in Kazakhstan, and newly promoted counsel Nurlan Mukhitdinov is an expert in Kazakh corporate, tax, subsoil and environmental laws.

Practice head(s):

Askar Moukhitdinov

Key clients

Republic of Kazakhstan

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Republic of Kazakhstan in a treaty-based dispute relating to the alleged wrongful termination of an exploration and production contract for an oil field.

Dechert LLP

Dechert LLP covers a broad spectrum of matters and has recently handled a range of oil and gas mandates spanning upstream and midstream work. The practice also has long-standing energy clients in the region including ExxonMobil and KazMunayGas, and has gained multiple new clients, particularly in the petrochemicals space. Team head Victor Mokrousov assists with transactions and projects for major and independent oil and gas companies, while Yevgeniya Nossova focuses on corporate and finance matters; Nossova recently acted for KazMunayGas on several corporate finance matters.

Practice head(s):

Victor Mokrousov

Testimonials

The team at Dechert are intelligent, conscientious, honest, and creative lawyers.’

Victor Mokrousov, Managing Partner, is one of the best lawyers that I have worked with in Kazakhstan.

Key clients

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

JSC NC KazMunayGas

Tengizchevroil LLP

Work highlights

  • Acted for EBRD on its equity investment in Central-Asian Electric Power Corporation (CAEPCO), and subsequently advised on its exit from CAEPCO.

Deloitte TCF, LLP

Deloitte TCF, LLP advises clients in the oil and gas, energy and mining sectors, and specialises in M&A, corporate structuring issues, and obtaining licences, permits and consents. Practice head Agaisha Ibrasheva focuses on M&A, corporate law, project finance issues, and subsoil use for the oil and gas sector. Newly promoted director Olessya Kirilovskaya has substantial knowledge of legislative issues including oil and gas and environmental regulations.

Practice head(s):

Agaisha Ibrasheva

Haller Lomax

Haller Lomax advises clients on all aspects of energy, environment and natural resources mandates in Kazakhstan, with a particular focus on mining projects and transactional work. With experience across the mining, environment, and construction sectors, the group regularly handles major mandates involving the Kazakh government and mining companies. Team co-head Arman Bigazin is an expert in construction work, PPP projects and joint ventures; co-head Timur Odilov  divides his practice between transactional and regulatory work; and Vilen Adjivefaev assists with banking and finance and M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Arman Bigazin; Timur Odilov

Testimonials

A well-skilled, results-oriented team.

Very fast, efficient and problem-solving approach.’

Timur Odilov was an author and main architect of the recently introduced Mining Code of Kazakhstan. His expertise in Natural Resources and Mining is therefore unique as probably no one on Kazakhstan has better understanding of Natural Resources and energy regulation.’

Key clients

Kazzinc LLP

Eurasian Group LLP

Work highlights

  • Advised Kazzinc and a part of Glencore International Group on a project for the construction of a new ore processing plant with mining infrastructure located in Zhairem.

SIGNUM Law Firm

SIGNUM Law Firm advises on complex issues in the natural resources and energy sectors, with particular expertise in cross-border M&A deals and regulatory matters involving foreign investors exploring investment opportunities in Kazakhstan. Managing partner Sofiya Zhylkaidarova is 'outstanding' and 'market leader' in the oil and gas and mining industries. Other key practitioners include Liza Zhumakhmetova, who focuses on commercial, corporate and M&A mandates; and Abylkhair Nakipov, who advises clients in the oil and gas and pharmaceuticals industries on contracts and regulatory compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Sofiya Zhylkaidarova; Abylkhair Nakipov; Liza Zhumakhmetova

Testimonials

The SIGNUM team has on-the-ground understanding of legislative and regulatory developments of the sector. Whenever we have requested the team to assist us with oil and gas matters, they can assemble and deploy a bespoke team to ensure we meet our commercial objectives, especially in negotiating the terms of the concession agreements with the governmental agencies as well as having broad knowledge in industry trends.

The firm has a historic strength in energy and natural resources matters. In particular, the team is noted for its special ability to consistently deliver strong multi-dimensional expertise in various practice areas, including on energy litigation, arbitration and regulatory issues.

The one thing that makes SIGNUM unique as compared to other firms is the level of personal responsibility that the partners and employees have in making sure the client’s needs are met. I know every firm could say this but at SIGNUM, it’s noticeable and it’s real. Personal service and personal attention is their strength.

Sofiya Zhylkaidarova and Liza Zhumakmetova are outstanding partners in the practice. Gaukhar Kudaibergevona is an outstanding rising star associate. The team is always available and always answers promptly and professionally.

‘Sofiya Zhylkaidarova is an excellent professional, very charismatic and is truly recognized as one of the market leaders.

Liza Zhumakhmetova exhibited a very practical and knowledgeable approach to legal matters both for the local Kazakhstan laws and regulations and for the international market considerations. Very professional approach to all matters.

Key clients

Excellence Logging Ltd.

EnerMech

Australian Gas Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Excellence Logging on a cross-border M&A deal relating to its $50m acquisition of Weatherford International and its assets in Kazakhstan.
  • Advised EnerMech on its acquisition of a Kazakh construction company including land plots and relevant equipment.
  • Assisted Australian Gas Group with the liquidation of its subsidiaries in Kazakhstan.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP acts for clients in the energy and natural resources industries, and participates in key legislative initiatives surrounding energy and natural resources in Kazakhstan. The group regularly advises clients on Kazakh subsoil legislation, and has extensive experience in cross-border deals, where it leverages the firm's offices in London, Dubai, Moscow and China. Group head Maxim Telemtayev counts companies from the energy, mining, oil and gas, and banking sectors on his client roster, and counsel Marat Ibragimov  has contributed to the drafting of the new subsoil use code of Kazakhstan.

Practice head(s):

Maxim Telemtayev

Key clients

KazMunaiGas Exploration and Production

Resource Capital Funds

KAZENERGY

Nostrum Oil & Gas

Work highlights

  • Advised a syndicate of banks including Credit Suisse and JP Morgan, China International Capital Corporation and Halyk Finance on the $3bn IPO of Kazatamprom, the world’s largest uranium producer.
  • Advised KazMunaiGas Exploration and Production, a subsidiary of the leading Kazakhstan-based oil and gas company, on its buyback of shares and delisting from the London Stock Exchange and Kazakhstan Stock Exchange.
  • Advised Resource Capital Fund VII, a US-based private equity fund, on its 35% indirect equity acquisition of RG Gold, a gold mining company based in Kazakhstan.

Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited

Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited acts for foreign clients making investments in Kazakhstan and local companies, and has in-depth knowledge of local laws alongside experience in cross-border transactions; the group regularly works with the firm's network of foreign offices. Clients stem from the power, mining and oil and gas industries and instruct the team on licensing regulation work, real estate and construction matters, trade compliance issues and domestic litigation. Azamat Kuatbekov is head of the Almaty office's energy and natural resources practice, which also fields Nurgul Abdreyeva, who is active in cross-border transactions and regulatory advice.

Practice head(s):

Azamat Kuatbekov

Key clients

KazTransGaz JSC

Work highlights

  • Assisting a major US service company in the oil and gas sector with its acquisition of the business of a major oil and gas services company in Kazakhstan.
  • Advised a metals and mining corporation on mining law requirements relating to its joint venture with Kazakhstan’s national exploration company.
  • Acted for KazTransGaz on issues relating to a joint venture project in Georgia.

Ernst & Young Kazakhstan LLP

Ernst & Young Kazakhstan LLP is a key name for subsoil use matters, and is notably active in the oil and gas, mining and metals sectors; the practice also handles matters in the power and utilities industries. Dinara Karimova advises on investment projects for international and local companies operating in Kazakhstan, and also has expertise in oil and gas corporate, finance and dispute resolution work. Borys Lobovyk specialises in M&A, antitrust, PPP projects, IP and IT issues, and also advises on energy-related infrastructure projects.

Practice head(s):

Dinara Tanasheva; Borys Lobovyk

Testimonials

The team has a unique and strong knowledge of PSA regimes in Kazakhstan and advises on tax, legal and customs aspects of a first in its kind offshore joint-development upstream project between two PSAs.’

The team has excellent local market experience in all areas of local law. In our case, Ernst & Young demonstrated excellent performance on engagement dealing with M&A related issues, labour issues, contracts law, mediation and solicitation, corporate governance, customs and tax, as well as English law.’

The project team delivered exceptional services going beyond our normal expectations. Unlike many competitors Ernst & Young delivers a combined service, meaning that their tax, legal and finance teams form a strong bond and deliver a unique high quality service.

Borys Lobovyk is a bright young partner with a commercial mindset, deep expertise, and outstanding communication skills.

Dinara Tanasheva, senior partner, helped to cool down tensions during negotiations.

Key clients

Weatherford

Hydratight Ltd.

Integrites

Integrites has experience acting for national government agencies, local government departments and traditional and alternative energy providers. Managing partner Kurmangazy Talzhanov specialises in commercial arbitration proceedings, while Oleksiy Feliv focuses on projects in the energy sector. Former managing partner Rashid Gaissin left for KPMG in Kazakhstan in April 2020.

Practice head(s):

Kurmangazy Talzhanov

KM & Partners LLP

KM & Partners LLP has experience in cross-border M&A and finance transactions in the mining, oil and gas and energy sectors. Managing partner Yerzhan Kumarov is qualified in Kazakhstan and New York and advises domestic and international companies on the structuring of cross-border investments and financial projects. Senior associate Aliya Ashigaliyeva recently acted for a joint Kazakh-American drilling company.

Practice head(s):

Yerzhan Kumarov

Key clients

Goshawk Aviation

Jiangxi Copper

VTB Financing

IMI International

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised International Finance Corporation on a $30m convertible loan and $20m equity investment to finance Eastcontrans, a railroad leasing wagon company.
  • Advised Goshawk Aviation and Air Astana on two separate cross-border aircraft lease transactions.
  • Advised Tengri Partners Capital on its acquisition of oil and gas assets.

Olympex Advisers LLP

Olympex Advisers LLP is key name for subsurface resource work in Kazakhstan, and regularly advises the state, as well as local and international companies. Managing partner Diyar Yereshev advises clients in the oil and gas and subsoil industries.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Tax & Advisory LLP

PricewaterhouseCoopers Tax & Advisory LLP advises clients in the oil and gas, mining, and renewables sectors in the Kazakhstan market, and is experienced in regulatory matters and subsoil mandates. The practice also assists major petroleum and mining companies with contracts and regulatory compliance issues. Team head Yelena Ryzhkova has a notable focus on M&A in the energy and construction sectors and also handles complex energy investment projects. Assel Kazbekova recently joined the firm from Deloitte TCF, LLP and is experienced in natural resources regulation and renewables issues.

Practice head(s):

Yelena Ryzhkova

Testimonials

Assel kazbekova is able to understand what clients want immediately, providing assistance and helping the client to reach the target.

Sayat Zholshy & Partners

Based in Almaty, Sayat Zholshy & Partners has expertise in contracts, litigation, government audits, licences and permits, antitrust issues, taxation and M&A. Amir Begdesenov is a key contact for power resources clients, and works on natural resource consumption issues; he also assists companies  operating in the oil and gas, exploration, production, manufacturing and transportation industries. Dmitriy Chumakov  is also recommended for energy and natural resources mandates.

Practice head(s):

Amir Begdesenov

Testimonials

Sayat Zholshy & Partners make a real difference by their excellent knowledge, experience and skills in the field of Energy and Natural Resources. They have a deep understanding of the sector specifics, the ins and the outs, and the most compelling issues. We are greatly satisfied with Sayat Zholshy & Partners.

Key clients

Batys Transit JSC

Samruk-Kazyna JSC

AlmatyEnergoSbyt JSC

Batys Techno Services LLP

Kazakhmys Corporation LLC

PM Lucas Kazakhstan LLP

Caspian Oil Services Management Incorporation Kazakhstan LLP

Work highlights

  • Advised Batys Transit JSC on its agreement with Kazchrome Transnational Company JSC relating to the supply of electric power.
  • Advised PM Lucas Kazakhstan on an open tender procedure for the procurement of drilling services in the Kyzylorda region.
  • Assisted a major subsoil user with the drafting of a production sharing agreement.