ConocoPhillips is in the middle of a long-standing streamlining programme, so there was little surprise on Monday when it announced the disposal of a chunky $5.5bn asset – its stake in Kazakhstan’s vast Kashagan field.

But the buyer’s name came as a shock. Given the enthusiasm of president Nursultan Nazarbayev (pictured) for Kazakhs to own more of the country’s mineral wealth, it had been expected that ConocoPhilips might sell to a Kazakh state group – for example, KazMunaiGas, the energy company, which expressed an interest only last month. Instead the purchaser is ONGC, the Indian state oil group. Read more