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Caspian Oil
Tengiz - Plant

This is a bit of a stray from the normal Techno-Gypsy information. Working in Tengiz as an ex-pat means living, all-found, on a camp. The main plus side is the 28/28 rotation most people have. We have no idea about life in Atyrau or other Kazakh cities/oil fields. This is a brief overview for any specific questions please contact the webmaster.



English (American), Russian and Kazakh are the official languages. All TCO site documentation is required in all three languages. Meetings are generally held in English and Russian with translators..



Tenge. Not available outside Kazkahstan. At time of writing the exchange rate is about 230T to the GBP. However, on camp, there is little to spend money on.

At TCOV (the main camp) there is an ABNAMRO bank just outside the gate where you can change money (dollars, Euro, GBP, etc.). There are also 2 cash machines. My cash card didn't work but others had more luck. There is also another cash machine by the shop outside the camp.

The income tax rate in Kazakhstan is a flat 10% BUT there is a reciprocal agreement with UK, so, if you work 28/28 and return to the UK for too many leave rotations Mr Brown will demand your cash.



To/from Atyrau
The main flights to Atyrau with Air Astana leave from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam at 1220 local time. It is a 4 hour 35 minute (approx.) flight arriving around 8pm local time. Arrival times change an hour dependent on BST/GMT. Flights are avaiable all days except Monday.

Flights to Amsterdam from Atyrau leave at 0835 local time in winter - earlier in summer - and arrive at 0935.

For those with a long wait for ongoing flights there is the opportunity to go into Amsterdam for lunch. Amsterdam Central Station is 10 minutes from Schiphol by train. Rembrandt Plein (No. 4 tram from Central Station) is recommended or In de Wildeman (see links page).

Transport from Atyrau to Tengiz is the day after arrival in Atyrau. Accommodation is provided at the TCO Transit Hotel (affectionately known as Gulag Transit) just by the airport. This is not a comfortable place and don't expect to get much sleep.

The transport to Tengiz takes two forms.

For those lucky enough to comply with the rules there is the flight by company L-410. This takes around 45 minutes.

For the majority there is the train.

The bus to the train station leaves the TCO Transit Hotel at 0445 (dependent on the time of year). The train leaves at 0600 and arrives in Kulsary (the nearest town to Tengiz) between 1000 and 1200. There is then a one and a half hour bus ride to Tengiz.
On the home journey, the bus leaves Tengiz at 1345. The train leaves Kulsary around 1600/1630 and arrives at the Atyrau station between 2030 and 2130 and there is a 20 minute bus ride to the Transit Hotel. Arrival is between 2100 and 2200.

The trains used to have bunks but have been "upgraded" to have semi-reclining seats designed for the least comfort possible.

Transport to and from the Plant from TCOV is by regular bus and takes between 25 and 40 minutes dependent on route.



The main camps are:

TCOV (TengizChevrOil Village) - built between 10 and 14 years ago. Generally, western ex-pats live in C Blocks and D Blocks, although there are a few in a B Block.
C blocks are houses, most have12 single rooms and a shower room with a large communal area in the middle. Some rooms are equipped with a sink. A few blocks also have a ladies shower room, some have a kitchen and most have a washing machine. Most have a BBQ outside. The rooms are equipped with one single bed, one easy chair, one desk and chair, a drawer unit, two wardrobes, a fridge or fridge/freezer and a TV. Some people make their rooms more homely. The bedding supplied is clean but full of holes and always too short for the quilt. The towels supplied are also full of holes.
Laundry is picked up and returned three times a week and the rooms are (apparently) cleaned twice a week. Laundry is boiled (for hygiene) so jeans, cargoes, T-shirts and cotton shirts (fleeces in winter) are about the only clothes to survive more than a couple of washes.
Heating is by steam pipes so it is either on or off - regulation is by opening a window.

There are 4 D blocks - these are two storey barrack-like buildings with 50 rooms per floor. Each floor has 50 single rooms, 4 shower rooms (2 male, 2 female) and 2 "kitchens". Each shower room has 4 showers, 3 loos, 3 sinks and 3 urinals. Each room is equipped with one single bed, one easy chair, one desk and chair, a drawer unit, two wardrobes, a fridge or fridge/freezer and a TV. None of the rooms have sinks. Laundry is collected 3 times per week and returned next day.
B Blocks are similar to D blocks.
A Blocks have 2 person rooms are are generally occupied by nationals.

Shanyrak Village was built for those working on the Second Generation Plant project (SGP) and is about 3 years old. It is inhabited by SGP personnel ONLY. I am unsure of the details of this camp. Each of 5 blocks are built with a central hub containing the dining area and communal areas (and I think a bar) of which there are 6 arms containing accommodation. Two rooms share one bathroom. I believe that each "spider" has a small gym. By all accounts the accommodation is better than TCOV.

The RV (Rotational Village) is not owned or operated by TCO. This comprises apartments and, generally, non-western ex-pats live here.


Medical Assistance

TCOV has a very well equipped clinic and qualified medical staff on hand. The clinic deals with most minor illnesses and injuries. For more major complaints ex-pats are Med-evaced to Helsinki. This system seems to work very well. Medical insurance is generally covered by your employer.

There is also a dentist available for emergency dental repairs.



Awful and very, very unhealthy. Carbohydrates are cheap. Regular cost cutting exercises and the sinking dollar exchange rate reduce the quality further as time goes on.

On TCOV sit down breakfast is served in the North Canteen, with takeaway (fruit and yoghurt, porridge or roll and bacon/sausage/egg) available in the South Canteen. Sit down lunch is served in the North Canteen with filled rolls/"salads" available as takeaway from the South Canteen. Dinner is similar with a wider choice of takeaway available in the South Canteen - main meal, pizza or "wok". Lunch is avaiable at the plant - sit down only - and worse than TCOV food.

Fresh fruit is difficult to get hold of (other than one ancient apple or orange at the takeaway breakfast). There used to be an unofficial local "market" in the TCOV car park but the authorities closed it down. Now there is the TCOV "Swift" shop which has varying amounts of food stuffs dependent on availability and "Tings" shop just off the camp which generally has more variety. Either may have some fresh fruit, eggs, etc. available. Both shops sell basics such as soap and toothpaste and so on. "Tings" also sells alcohol - beer, wine and spirits. (See alcohol rules in the Entertainment section).



Not a lot.

There is a well equipped gym, an indoor swimming pool and sauna, 4 outdoor tennis courts, a baseball/football (soccer) field and a basketball court at TCOV. Shanyrak has further gyms and tennis courts. Bear in mind that outdoor sports are limited to summer only.
There is a general Star TV package avaiable on TVs.

TCOV has the Nelson Bar - however, there are drink rules in place.

The official TCO rules regarding alcohol are that a blood count of zero is required during working hours and no more than 0.04mg/ml of blood off duty. The penalty is immediate sacking. The result can be difficulty in obtaining a Kazakh work visa in the future. People being caught is a regular occurrence, however, it isn?t as bad as it was since the bonus paid to the Group 4 security guards for each person caught was scrapped.


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Last modified: September 25, 2007