Tag: #Kazakhstan

Return to Homeland

Next Sunday I will graduate from Hofstra University with a bachelor degree in Sustainability studies. Right after that I will be going home to Kazakhstan for the summer. I will spend the summer with my family in the beautiful city of Almaty. There I will post more frequently, about the situation in Kazakhstan and the life of the city. There is also a chance, that I will visit the World Expo 2017, in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The theme of the Expo will be renewable Energy, and green technologies.  It would be a global showcase of latest developments in the Wind Power Generation, Solar Power Generation, Energy storage, and Energy efficiency. For Kazakhstan it would be the main event of the year, as the country hopes to attract the attention of Global media, and present itself as a progressive nature friendly country.

The theme  of the Expo is directly related to what I have been studying at Hofstra for the last 4 years. It will only be fitting to go see the newest achievements in Wind, and Solar generation technology, after learning about Wind and Solar energy in class.

I will also be teaching, right after I get my University Degree. I will work in the summer camp for part of the summer, teaching English to school children. The camp is in the mountains near  Almaty. Besides teaching English I will go hiking, and may be even have an overnight trip to the wild.

The Summer camp decided to turn into an English teaching institution due to the fact , that Kazakhstan is transferring to the trilingual education.

Let’s go back to America where I am finishing my last semester as an Undergraduate student. Here is a slide show of images related to my Graduation. Those are pictures I made in the last two days.

I am going to leave Hofstra forever, since I will not be coming here for the Masters program. Instead I will go Clark University,  where I will study Environmental Science and Policy.  That is a kind of degree no college offers in Kazakhstan. It will be very hard to explain my relatives what my Master’s program is all about.  I will tell them that it has to do with study of the natural environment and human interactions with it, as well as the laws regarding nature protection.

Honestly, my major at Hofstra was even harder to explain. Sustainability, no one in Kazakhstan has really heard of such concept, at least no one even took courses in that. In Kazakhstan universities majors are tailored to specific occupations, such as “Geologist” or “Electrical Engineer”, there is no room for vague majors such as “Sustainability Studies” or “Environmental Science”.My first major was Environmental Resources, the idea behind it, was to learn what resources are available and how to effectively Manage them. The major I graduated with is “Sustainability Studies”. It does sound vague and esoteric. However,  I did manage to explain my parents that Sustainability Studies is about learning how to live without destroying the planet, and making sure that we do not run out of resources.

Well the field of Sustainability is brand new, this wave did not reach Kazakhstan yet. It has only been around since 1970-ies, and did not become a big deal the 21st century. Actually many people in the United States are still unaware about the concept  of sustainability. The topic of this  major is hard to explain not only to old people, but also to some students on Hofstra campus. Hofstra Sustainability studies program was only established in 2013, the same year I came to Hofstra. To this day not a lot of students are aware of the sustainability program, and there are less than 50 Sustainability majors on the campus with 11 thousand students. That is counting both Undergraduate and Graduate Students. The Masters Program in Sustainability studies was established only two years ago, and this year  Hofstra has one student graduating with this degree.Well, that’s one more person than the whole nation of Kazakhstan.

In the future it will off course change. The notion of Sustainable development, will cease to be a novel idea, and will become understood throughout society both in Kazakhstan and the United States, and also in other countries around the World.People will become more conscious about the Environmental impact of their decisions, and change their lifestyles.  The courses in Sustainability and Environmental Science will be taught in colleges throughout the world. Not only in Liberal leaning western institutions. I hope that these concept will enter the high school curriculum as well, even those who do not pursue majors in Sustainability should be aware of the current Environmental Issues.

Personally I am going to miss Hofstra a lot. The instructors here have been very helpful and understanding, and I have found friends among the students. It is the place which I want to visit again in the future.The campus is a beautiful site, where one can find great diversity of plants and some modern art sculptures. Here is a footage of the Sculptures outside of the University Student Center.




The Petroleum West


Kazakhstan is an  exporting nation. Most of our petroleum comes from Oil Fields in the Caspian Depression.

Caspian depression is a giant bowl, hundreds of thousands square kilometers of land at sea level or lower.  This land used to be a dust bin nobody cared about.  Up until  Petroleum Production started at Makat in 1904. By 1939 Kazakhstan produced more than 10% of USSR petroleum. The output more than doubled during the Great Patriotic War. It continued to increase after that. In 1991 Kazakhstan became independent.  Two years later giant Tengiz oilfield  was given to Shevron. It is a joint venture they have with our national oil company Kaz Munay Gaz.

Two other giant oil fields are also run by joint ventures. Production at Karachaganak and Kashagan belongs to   consortiums, Kaz Munay Gaz owns about a quarter at both projects.

Those fields are offshore projects, in the middle of Eurasia. The oil comes from under the seabed. Yes, seabed of Caspian Sea, that giant salt lake, whose surface is 28meters below sea level. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caspian_Sea). That’s right an entire sea is below sea level.

The Caspian Sea is home for the largest project in history of Post-Soviet Central Asia. The Kashagan oil field contains 10billion barrels of recoverable oil. The production started in September of last year. The project cost more than 50billion dollars.

But, the start of production there did not prevent Kaz Munay Gaz  reported profits fall by 44%, last year, it fell to 132billion Tenges.

Nevertheless their Cap Ex increased by 17% last year, while most oil companies were busy cutting expenses.

Well, that means that oil production certainly will not decrease.

Bankrupt metropolis.

The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, told the governor of South Kazakhstan province to turn city of Shymkent, into a place with more than million people.That would be our third million city, after  Almaty and Astana.

President stated that the region is dependent on subsidies from central government, and the tax revenues from the region are low, despite being most populated province in the country. A lot of people in the region are either unemployed or self-employed. So the president ordered the regional government to promote small and mid-sized businesses. That measure is supposed to stop the massive outflow of people from the region.


Meanwhile, the mayor of Shymkent,  had to explain the people of a struggling Kaynarbulak neighborhood that city does not have infinite funds., where 9thousand houses lose their electricity supply 5 times a day, they don’t have flowing water. Lamp posts and sidewalks don’t exist in the area, where 51thousands people live. Kaynarbulak was part of Shymkent since 2014.

He compared demands of neighborhoods for road repairs,  natural gas, electricity,  and bus service to kids asking parents for new clothing. The city only has funds to fix problems street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood. /

That same mayor, stated that city’s public transport is a shame. He realized the necessity of making buses run specific routes, and follow schedule!