Oil-rich regions in Kazakhstan brace for floods, Siberian rivers burst in Russia

By Thomson Reuters Apr 19, 2024 | 4:38 AM

YANVARTSEVO, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – Kazakhstan braced on Friday for levels on the Ural River to rise sharply, something that could threaten two of its western regions and key oil infrastructure, while Russia grappled with floods in and near Siberia.

Both countries have in the last few weeks battled the worst floods in decades, which have forced tens of thousands people to evacuate.

Hundreds of people were building a 7-km (4.3-mile) barrier on Friday along the Ural River in the village of Yanvartsevo, in the West Kazakhstan region, about 20 km from the Russian border, which officials said would also protect the regional centre Oral.

The Ural goes through West Kazakhstan and the Atyrau region as it flows into the Caspian Sea, an area also crossed by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) pipeline, which pumps 80% of Kazakhstan’s vital oil exports.

In the city of Atyrau, local newspaper Ak Zhayik reported many residents were leaving to wait out the peak of the floods in other cities, while some were building sandbag or plastic barriers around their houses.

Kazakh state oil pipeline company KazTransOil said it was building protective embankments at its facilities in the region, including the Atyrau-Samara pipeline, through which crude is pumped for further delivery, via Russia, to Germany’s Schwedt refinery.

In Russia, authorities in the Tyumen region in Siberia called for the urgent evacuation of five villages along the Ishim River, instructing people to grab only their documents, medicines and bedclothes.

In the Russian city of Kurgan, water levels in the Tobol river have risen to a record high, Kurgan regional governor Vadim Shumkov said on the Telegram messaging app, and parts of the city on the right bank of the river have been flooded.

More than 15,000 people have been evacuated in the Kurgan region, the TASS news agency cited local authorities as saying.

(Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Alex Richardson)