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The Tengiz Oil Enclave: Labor, Business, and The State

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Abstract

This study focuses on Tengiz, a multinational oil project situated on the northeastern coast of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan, operated by Chevron since 1993. The first large international business partnership in the post-Soviet space, TengizChevroil was celebrated as a “model” enterprise for East–West cooperation at the end of the Cold War. In 2005–2008, its development projects sustained operations of nearly 100 companies that employed thousands of people. Ironically, the economic boom at Tengiz that significantly expanded business market and labor demand was accompanied by worker riots in 2004–2006. The riots took place within a secure industrial enclave that had been created as part of the corporate effort to protect the oil company's investment and to ensure a smooth operation of its business. This study examines the Tengiz enclave and the underlying forces that shaped lawless practices within it, including corruption and labor abuses that sparked the riots. It also explains the failure of the state to bring the rule of law to Tengiz connecting lawlessness to international oil contracts.

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