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Artificial island on Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field in the Caspian Sea.
Area: Kashagan Field
Estimated barrels of recoverable crude: 11 billion

Wedged between Russia and China, Kazakhstan could become one of the top five oil producers in the world within the next ten years, according to a 2010 report from the Energy Information Administration.

Kazakhstan is relatively new to the energy game. It only created national oil company Kazmunaigaz in 2002 to give the country control over oil and gas production in its territory. Now, the company holds a majority stake in all joint ventures.

As of 2009, Kazakhstan already produced 1.54 million barrels per day, 94% of which was crude oil. The country has an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil reserves--half of which are onshore, and half of which are off the coast in the Caspian Sea. Those oil fields, called the Kashagan and Kurmangazy fields, are estimated to hold at least 14 billion barrels of oil.

Offshore Kazakhstan is tricky to develop. The oil is sulphurous, and it's combined with a high quantity of high-pressure natural gas. Also, drilling platforms have to be incredibly sturdy to weather the harsh conditions in the Caspian Sea.

But Shell, ConocoPhillips, Total and ExxonMobil are already in the Kashagan play and areas close to it. Production from the area should come online by 2013.

There's more to be explored. ConocoPhilips just struck a big find in the Caspian Sea in another block. Based on estimates from the exploration well, the new find could hold up to 4.6 billion barrels of oil -- 2 billion of which could be produced. It's then the biggest find since the Kashagan in 2000.

NEXT: Ghana
Last updated January 26 2011: 12:08 PM ET
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