After the ATCE it was off to Kazakhstan. But flying to Kazakhstan meant a trip to Frankfurt and it was just as convenient to take a train there and spend the night as fly all night and spend an extra day (and an extra flight) in Kazakhstan. So off to Frankfurt on the train. Who would guess that the cheapest hotel on the trip would be the Intercontinental in Frankfurt? Here I saw the only opera of the trip, DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL
(THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was a great production and the most widely performed of his operas during his lifetime. This opera isn't performed much these days for reasons we could discuss elsewhere. A nice nights sleep and an early flight to Aktau.
The view from my window at the Intercontinental Hotel. This hotel turns out to cost less than half of any other hotel on the trip and is perfectly nice. Because of my travel I wind up getting multiple upgrades so I usually just book the cheapest room! It worked well this time.
A few shots from around town including the old and new opera houses.
Lively street markets offer a variety of goods and food. The city is alive and energetic.
Kazakhstan is huge. Baker Hughes held a Techno-day in Atyrau and there are great SPE members and activities in Aktau and Astana where I visited. It was a little disappointing to not be able to go and spend time in Almaty and the area. One more reason to return to Kazakhstan! It is striking how large Kazakhstan is. It is the largest landlocked country in the world.
This is a "to scale" outline of Kazakhstan.
Some of you think I am just having fun. Well, I certainly post more about the weekends and the fun stuff. But here is my schedule in Kazakhstan.
Astana (3-4 November)
Monday 11.00 Agip
Monday 12.00 Shell
Monday 15.00 KMG, KMG research Institute,
Monday 16.00 Nazarbayev University student chapter
Monday evening dinner with the Astana SPE Section
Tuesday 10.00 Exxonmobil
Tuesday 12.00 Kazakhstan Ministry of Energy
Tuesday 15.00 KAZENERGY
Tuesday 16.00 Total
Tuesday 18.30 Speaking at the Atyrau SPE Section meeting
Atyrau (5-7 November--- fly to Atyrau in the AM)
Wednesday 13.00 TCO
Wednesday 14.30 Schlumberger
Wednesday evening speak at SPE section event
Thursday – 08.00-14.00 Baker Hughes Incorporated TechnoDay
Thurday -14.00-17.00 KMG R&D facilities visit
Thursday Dinner - multiple service companies and SPE leaders hosted by Weatherford
Friday AM –
10.00 APEC Petrotechnical Institute
11.30 Atyrau Oil & Gas Institute
15.00 flight to Astana and then to Abu Dhabi
I arrived very early Sunday morning and was able to attend a local Church service. Kazakhstan is noticeably cooler than the previous cities I have visited on this trip which started quite some time ago.
Students from the petrobowl team and the SPE student chapter
Nazarbayev University is quite new. So is all of Astana.
The Opera House
Directly across from the hotel. There are new and interesting buildings everywhere. At Tim Miller's excellent presentation on Tuesday night the large crowd of students peppered him with questions. The most amusing one had to do with whether or not they might have to move to Atyrau. The students more or less view Atyrau as the wild, wild, west but Tim was insistent that it was a perfectly good place to live.
Astana is all new. Architects have been given pretty free reign there and many buildings show that creativity. My only negative observation is that those architects seem to be (as a group) completely unfamiliar with the need for parking, perhaps placing their creations in a future state with widespread teleportation... certainly not one with the number of cars they now have.
Driving into Atyrau one can see a pretty significant amount of construction as well. Unlike the trendy graceful skyrise apartments being completed in Astana, the style here seems to be more "rectangular box." It certainly doesn't have as modern a feel but it is the center of the oilfield in Kazakhstan!
SPE Meeting pictures
The local Russian Orthodox church
The local Mosque
A national monument
Some pictures from Friday's meetings at two local colleges
So, you think it is all fun and games? My plan Friday afternoon was to fly from Atyrau to Astana and then fly to Abu Dhabi, arriving that same night.
Instead, as we approached Astana we circles and then they advised us that Astana airport was closed "for technical reasons" (no further information and this technical closure did not seem to impact any other flights as none were delayed. We landed in Karaganda and were advised that the airport was now open. Unfortunately it took us almost an hour to refuel so the Abu Dhabi flight was gone.
They rerouted us to Almaty with a promised hotel and a morning flight to Dubai. I tried to find out what hotel we were going to be sent to but no one knew. When we landed I found out why. They really never planned to have us go to a hotel but put us all up in a really horrible lounge. Not a real lounge but an overpriced cafe with some beat up furniture. While it didn't have many nice things it did have a super loud set of speakers for all the airport announcements and an even louder television.
In the last blog entry I waxed poetic n my praise of Singapore airlines. Air Astana is sort of the opposite, particularly as it comes to customer service. But on arriving Dubai there was some good news. If you have to wait in a really long line to go through immigration then you do not have to wait for your bags!
I am in Abu Dhabi in the beautiful Hyatt Capitol Gate in anticipation of ADIPEC. A different world from Kazakhstan!
train to FRA
car to Abu Dhabi
Operas this entry = 1, to date = 6