Kazakh workers were recuperating from the frigid temperatures of the Caspian Sea over cups of tea when their Italian supervisor interrupted their break, demanding they return to work. The workers restrained the supervisor—a manager working for SpA, a company building a giant oil development here—and put a plastic bag over his head. He fled, packed his bags and left Kazakhstan. The spat was a brief episode yet emblematic of the endless challenges that have hobbled a project once hailed as the dawn of a new era in cooperation between oil-rich countries and Western companies. Asked about the 2011 incident, which was described by Western oil-company managers, a senior Eni executive said that he wasn’t familiar with it but that friction between workers and management is a periodic occurrence. Tantalizing rewards were envisioned for both sides from the oil project here, known as Kashagan, at the outset two decades […]