Afghanistan Oil Mining
Afghanistan’s Mining Ministry has announced the discovery of a huge new oil field, one that could be ten times the size of the nation’s 150 million barrels of previously known reserves.
Suffice to say that America might have yet another reason to hang around:
Afghanistan discovered an oilfield containing an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude in the north of the country, a Mines Ministry official said.
If proven, the resource would be more than 10 times the size of the country’s oil reserves, assessed at more than 150 million barrels by the U.S. Geological Survey. By comparison, Saudi Arabia had proven reserves of 264.6 billion barrels at the end of 2009, according to BP Plc data.
“A huge oil resource, which looks like a triangle, with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil, has been discovered by Afghan geologists in cooperation with international geologists between Balkh and Sheberghan provinces,” Jawad Omar, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a phone interview today from the capital, Kabul.
The field is a new discovery and was not among those found by Russian exploration companies, Omar said. Further research will be carried out in the next six months and the field will be tendered once all investigations are completed, he said.
The U.S., which has spent $27 billion since 2002 training Afghan forces, is promoting development of Afghan resources in an attempt to stabilize President Hamid Karzai’s government, U.S. Deputy Under-Secretary of State Paul Brinkley said earlier this year. During an Aug. 13 video teleconference, U.S. President Barack Obama and Karzai discussed the need to jointly keep the pressure on the Taliban and to build Afghan capacity.
The country itself lacks local knowledge to get the oil itself, according to Sayed Masood, an economics professor at the University of Kabul.
“Lack of capacity, lack of capital, lack of skilled people means that Afghanistan cannot extract the reserves itself,” Masood said in a phone interview today.
Afghanistan plans tenders for more than five mineral and energy projects by the end of 2011, including gold, copper, iron ore, gemstones, marble, lithium, oil and gas, Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said in June. The nation’s mineral wealth may total $1 trillion to $3 trillion, he said. U.S. officials estimate there are untapped minerals worth about $1 trillion in the country, the New York Times reported on June 14.