Kazakhstan is a relatively new nation that shares a long border with Russia. A border is one thing, but what's particularly disturbing is that it apparently also shares its neighbor's philosophical approach to dealing with Western energy companies.

As last week came to a close, Chevron (NYSE:CVX), the second-largest U.S.-based oil company, came under criticism from Gani Kasymov, a well-known Kazakh politician, for its environmental track record as an operator of the giant Tengiz fields, which are located toward the Caspian Sea on the nation's western extremity. Chevron is involved in a joint venture with the Kazakh state in Tengizchevroil, the operator of the fields. But the company is being accused of a failure to properly dispose of sulfur that was produced during the exploration of the fields. Indeed, it appears that Kasymov has suggested shutting the project down.

Chevron's experience follows Kazakh governmental pressure on a group of Western oil companies led by Italy's Eni (NYSE:E), which had been developing the huge Kashagan field in the Caspian. Eni is the lead operator for a group of other Western companies, including Norway's Statoil, France's Total (NYSE:TOT), and industry leader ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), which were to share initial costs on the project and then recover their expenses before the government was cut in on the revenue. But according to The Wall Street Journal, with oil prices recently having moved decisively higher, the government is "trying to pressure Eni and squeeze additional money out of the project."

These tactics are ominously similar to those recently employed by Russia in squeezing Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) (NYSE:RDS-B) out of its operating position at that nation's Sakhalin-2 project to the east and in ousting BP (NYSE:BP) from the giant Kovykta gas field. But even Russia hasn't had the temerity to take on multiple Western companies in unison.

Events in the Kazakh state should be monitored carefully by Foolish energy investors. My biggest concern is that governmental heavy-handedness is occurring with greater frequency in the world's oil-producing horizons. It's one of many reasons that I'm convinced of the Foolish wisdom of keeping our investment portfolios well-stocked with energy names.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a well-oiled disclosure policy.