This thesis examines the relationship between Kazakhstan’s oil and gas resources and its multi-vector foreign policy. The relationship is explored by studying how oil and gas resources have been used in the multi-vector policy. The aim is to uncover general patterns of investment decisions and to see if political and foreign policy considerations have influenced energy development. This is done by studying decisions made by Kazakhstan regarding investments and development of its resources through selling rights to companies and export routes. In light of the data analyzed, the role of energy in the multi-vector policy is explored as a possible tool or as a driver. The thesis is based on a large pool of written accounts and interviews with practitioners in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sector and foreign policy.
In this thesis it is argued that Kazakhstan has developed its oil and gas resources and export routes in accordance with its multi-vector foreign policy. The United States, Russia and China are the most important vectors and partners in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, which is mirrored in Kazakhstan’s energy development. From the year 2000 Kazakhstan has moved from being fully dependent on Russia for oil export toward more diversification and mutual dependence in its energy relationships. However, transit through Russia is still Kazakhstan’s main export route. For Kazakhstan both economic and political considerations have played a part in decisions on energy development. Political considerations seem to have been important for investment and development decisions and appear to have hindered development of certain export routes. It is argued that energy has been used as a tool by Kazakhstan in relation to its multi-vector policy. In addition, there is some support for the view that energy can have a role as a driver for Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.