Work Commences on Afghan-Tajik Oil/Gas Project

Work Commences on  Afghan-Tajik Oil/Gas Project
Work Commences on  Afghan-Tajik Oil/Gas Project

The offices of the Sanduqli and Mazar-i-Sharif blocks belonging to the Afghan-Tajik basin oil were inaugurated Sunday in Mazar-i- Sharif, Afghanistan.   

An inauguration ceremony was held in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh, with the participation of local officials, Afghan and international businessmen, political delegations of the two countries, chamber of commerce and industry managers of Balkh Province.

Companies from Turkey and the UAE have invested $200 million in oil and gas extraction in the north of the country.

The Afghan-Tajik oil basin is located north of the country, between the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kunduz. The basin consists of 12 blocks. According to a Bloomberg report, the basin's oil reserves are estimated at more than 1 billion barrels. Ghazanfar Group, Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), and one company from the UAE are set to carry out exploration, development, and production activities in the two aforementioned blocks.

Preliminary work on the project has created more than 1000 jobs, businessmen involved in the project said, Payam Aftab news agency reported. A number of international investors interested in the Afghanistan market have predicted that should the security of the region be maintained, global investment firms will flock to northern Afghanistan to undertake huge oil and gas projects. "We are worried about the insecurity in Afghanistan, but if the government can safeguard the business of international investors, more companies will be attracted to the Afghanistan oil and gas market," said the representative of the UAE oil company.

  Gov't Assurance

Mohammad Zaher Vahdat, the deputy head of the northern Balkh Province assured global businessmen of a safe investment in Afghanistan.

"Afghan security forces can effectively protect the business operations of foreign investors," he said, commending global firms for their interest to carry out operations in the Afghan-Tajik oil field. With production from the basin, Afghanistan can emerge as an oil exporting country in the region, the report says.

Afghanistan has been looking for ways to exploit some of its mineral wealth to offset the expected loss in revenues when foreign aid and spending decline, with the withdrawal of international combat troops by year-end 2014.

  $3t Mineral wealth

The government has been keen to develop an oil-extraction and refining capability for the landlocked nation, which is entirely reliant on fuel imports from neighboring Iran and Central Asian countries. Afghanistan's mineral wealth — estimated at up to $3 trillion dollars — has been detailed in several surveys, the most extensive of which were conducted by the Soviets in the 1970s. Mining companies, both Afghan and foreign, have already shown interest, notably in its copper, iron and oil. Also highly sought are so-called rare earth elements, used in cell phones, hybrid car batteries, wind turbines and by the defense industries.  However, most mineral riches are scattered throughout the country, including in the war-wracked southern and eastern areas.

China's National Petroleum Corporation became the first foreign company to start oil production extraction in Afghanistan, and is scheduled to build the country's first refinery within the next three years.

The Chinese firm's contract covers gas blocks in Sari Pul and Faryab, an area known as the Amu Darya River Basin that was first explored by Soviet engineers in the 1960s. China has also made a hefty investment in Afghan minerals, signing a $3 billion contract to mine copper.