Kazakhstan is making the international oil majors twitchy by saying it may impose a crude oil export duty as soon as mid-2008 to stabilise supplies on the domestic market.

According to the Deputy Energy Minister Lyazzat Kiinov, the government is due to discuss the energy ministry’s draft proposals tomorrow, and set a date for sometime in 2008. Kazakhstan had previously said it wanted the duty from January 2009.

Foreign and domestic oil players are said to be watching the debate surrounding the crude oil duty closely as Kazakhstan, emboldened by record-high oil prices, continues to toughen up its energy legislation.

The Caspian oil producer set alarm bells ringing last year with a row with Western oil majors over the Kashagan field and by passing legislation empowering the government to break oil contracts with producers.