In the first part of this chapter, I will briefly analyse the development of the Kazakh oil industry in the Soviet Union, the legacy of which is crucial for understanding events in the first years of independence. In the second part of this chapter, I will discuss how in the beginning of the 1990s, President Nursultan Nazarbayev attempted to partly privatize the Kazakh oil sector with the involvement of the Kazakh oil men. The relationships between the regime and different branches of the oil industry were structured in a corporatist fashion – a direct legacy of the state-oil industry relationship structure from Soviet times. However, this relationship proved unsustainable due to challenges from within the oil sector in which: a) a corporatist structure created space for the emergence of a ‘strong man’ who attempted to take over the NOC (Kazakhstanmunaigaz, later renamed Munaigas) from the president; and b) parts of the oil industry in the peripheries were captured by local oil men and notables who were afraid to lose out in the privatizations driven by people associated with oil enterprises created in the 1980s. A collision between Nazarbayev and the oil men sparked the restructuring by the regime of the relationship between the two parties. In the third part of this chapter, I discuss how, in the latter half of the 1990s, Nazarbayev decided to pursue the almost full-scale privatization of the oil industry with the help of outsiders and only the minimal involvement of the Kazakh oil men. The privatization of the oil industry was accompanied by a major change in the relationship between the regime and the oil men, at a time when the corporatist structure was replaced by patrimonialism. In the fourth part of this chapter, I show that ever since the relationship was restructured, the Kazakh oil men have proven to be dependable allies of the Nazarbayev regime. Their unquestionable support was visible during the 2001 political crisis.