Dr. Vladimir BABAK

Vladimir Babak, Senior Fellow, Center for Russian and East European Studies, Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Since the turn of the century, the economy of Kazakhstan has demonstrated steadily high rates of growth. Throughout this period the countrys gross domestic product (GDP) has kept growing at an annual rate of over 9%. The republics economic achievements are particularly impressive when compared to the performance of most other CIS countries, which, along with Kazakhstan, are rebuilding their national economies after the breakup of the U.S.S.R. Even Russia, the largest CIS state, has not experienced such high rates of GDP growth, although it benefits from the current rise in world energy prices to an even greater extent than Kazakhstan.

Naturally, the latter circumstance generates interest in a study of the role played in the republics economy by the oil and gas sector, the main driving force behind its current economic boom.

The Oil and Gas Sector and Its Role in the Republics Economy

In the first few years of Kazakhstans independence, its top political leaders and (at their suggestion and possibly at their request) the mass media kept talking about the fabulous hydrocarbon reserves of Kazakhstan and of the Caspian region as a whole. Kazakhstan was most frequently compared to Kuwait (a second Kuwait), and the Caspian region, to the Persian Gulf (a second Persian Gulf). Today, ten years later, when passions have subsided and geological explorations have made it possible to give a

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