The presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan, Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbayev, have signed a deal creating a joint venture to process natural gas from Kazakhstan’s giant Karachaganak field at Russia’s Orenburg refinery. The joint venture will expand the capacity of the Orenburg refinery and eventually process 15 billion cubic metres from the Karachaganak field by 2012. Seven billion cubic meters of the processed gas would go back to Kazakhstan, while Russia would use the remainder domestically and possibly for export, the ITAR-Tass agency quoted Sergei Ivanov, the head of gas monopoly Gazprom’s Orenburg division, as saying. Located 145 kilometres east of the city of Uralsk, Karachaganak is one of the crown jewels of Kazakhstan’s hydrocarbon riches, with 1.3 trillion cubic meters of gas and 1.2 billion tons of liquid condensates and oil. The field is operated by an international consortium led by Britain’s BG Group PLC and Italy’s Eni SpA, each with a 32.5% stake. Russia’s biggest oil producer OAO Lukoil, has a 15% stake while U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. holds 20%.