Kazakhstan is ready to exchange exploration rights it holds for oil and gas assets in the Caspian Sea with Iran to gain access to reserves in the Persian Gulf, Prime Minister Karim Masimov said, according to Shana.ir.

“In general, we are ready to swap assets with Iran, but there is no particular deal under way,” Masimov said in Astana.

Kazakhstan had proven reserves of oil amounting to 39.8 billion barrels at the end of 2007, equivalent to 3.2 percent of the world’s total, according to BP Plc data. Iran, the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, had 138.4 billion barrels of oil reserves, or 11.2 percent of the global total.

Kazakhstan exports most of its crude through the Chevron-led Caspian Pipeline Consortium link to Russia’s Black Sea coast. Russia, which owns 24 percent of the pipeline, had been holding up plans to double shipments through the link to 1.35 million barrels a day, equal to Kazakhstan’s total output now.

“We want expansion of the CPC and BTC pipelines and the route to China,” Masimov said in a reference to BP Plc’s Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. “This is what is realistic.”

Kazakhstan said in February last year it was studying the possibility of building an oil pipeline through Iran to the Persian Gulf with Japan and France’s Total SA to gain new markets for its main export. Iran, holder of the world’s second biggest oil and gas reserves, has also said it plans a $2 billion pipeline to carry 1 million barrels a day of mostly Kazakh crude from the Caspian Sea to a terminal near the Persian Gulf.

Masimov said Kazakhstan, the former Soviet Union’s biggest energy producer after Russia, has no plans at present to build an oil pipeline with Iran. “In current circumstances, it’s impossible to build a pipeline to Iran,” he said without elaborating.

“Kazakhstan will continue to export its gas through Russia as it is realistic to go through Gazprom’s gas pipeline system, and it is good enough for us,” the official concluded.