ConocoPhillips ready to sell its Kashagan stake: official

U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips is ready to sell its stake in a multinational consortium developing Kazakhstan's giant Kashagan oilfield, Kazakh Oil and Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev said on Tuesday.

The U.S. oil major owns an 8.4-percent stake in the field.

Asked whether ConocoPhillips would sell its stake in the consortium, Mynbayev told reporters: "They have the intention of selling."

Lyazzat Kiinov, the head of Kazakh state oil company KazMunaiGas, said the firm was "displaying interest" in buying the stake of ConocoPhillips. He did not elaborate.

KazMunaiGas entered the project as a shareholder in 2005 and later doubled its stake to 16.81 percent.

Mynbayev also said that Kashagan, the world's biggest oil discovery in 40 years, was expected to produce its first oil by the end of March 2013.

"The consortium had the intention of starting production this December, but it looks like they won't manage it. They will move it to some time around the end of March," Mynbayev told reporters on the sidelines of an international energy conference.

Stakes similar to that of KazMunaiGas in the consortium are held by ENI , ExxonMobil , Royal Dutch Shell and French energy company Total . Japan's Inpex <1605.T> has 7.56 percent.

(Reporting by Robin Paxton; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Miral Fahmy)