The start of construction on expansions to an oil pipeline in Kazakhstan represents the strong ties between Russia and the Caspian region, Chevron said. Chevron\'s regional affiliate Chevron Neftegaz announced that construction began on a $5.4 billion upgrade to a 900-mile pipeline carrying crude oil from western Kazakhstan to oil terminals on the Black Sea. Kazakhstan\'s emergence as an energy giant is generating international attention. The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that Kazakhstan will become a top oil exporter in the next decade. Proven oil reserves are estimated at 30 billion barrels Neftegaz President Andrew McGrahan said in a statement the expansion project came about in part because of the close ties with Russian energy company Transneft. \"(The pipeline consortium) is a model of cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan and is an indication of the confidence we have in Russia and in oil transportation from the Caspian region,\" he said. The expansion will increase the capacity of the pipeline from 730,000 barrels of oil per day to 1.4 million bpd. It will be completed in three phases through 2015.