And then, Afghanistan struck oil

Well, at least it looks like it

Stephen Blank reports that Afghanistan’s economic fortunes may be about to turn:

In March, the US Geological Survey and the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Industry reported that Afghanistan’s resource base was much greater than previously believed. According to their findings, undiscovered petroleum resources in northern Afghanistan range from 3.6 to 36.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, with a mean of 15.7 TCF. Estimates of oil range from 0.4 to 3.6 billion barrels (BBO), with a mean of 1.6 BB0. Estimates for natural gas liquids range from 126 to 1,325 million barrels (MMB) with a mean of 562 MMB. These estimates represent an 18-fold increase in the country’s potential oil resources, and more than triple the natural gas resources.

If accurate, the news could mark the turning point in Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts. [EurasiaNet]

Blank argues that this development will make the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAP) gas pipeline more attractive, especially if India were to finally abandon the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline. The United States backs the TAP pipeline because the IPI pipeline would benefit Iran and Russia. Will American participation and security guarantees make a trans-Pakistan pipeline less risky for India? Will Afgans be drawn away from poppy cultivation and drug smuggling? Regional geopolitics may change, but the Afghan oil and gas find must be verified by independent research first.

7 thoughts on “And then, Afghanistan struck oil”

  1. Nitin,

    Frankly speaking I think that any pipeline through land of pure is fraught with risk, American guarantees or not.
    As fas as Indian interest are concerned US is a fickle partner


  2. Stephen Blank’s analysis is largely devoid of detailed study of regional geo-politics in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Groups within these countries will not always adhere to economic or political considerations. Hence both the pipeline projects are risky. TAP may be of benefit to the US from a strategic and economic point of view, but with an additional country to traverse for the pipeline, risk increases for India.

    In any case, as you say, reports of oil finds in Afghanistan need to be authoritatively verified before India can make any decision.

  3. Just wondering, in terms of energy deficiency in India, with the situation in the region as it is. What’s the difference between finding it in N.Afghanistan or 100 miles north of it?

    But it may end up helping Afghanistan, as Stephen reports.

  4. Both Iran pipeline and Afghan pipeline have to pass through Pakistan… But the US support for the Afghan pipeline could mark the difference.

  5. We should get off of the oil bandwagon. Tulsi Tanti can show us how. Oil has been a curse for every nation possessing it, if they did not already have their act together (think Canada and Russia here). Afghanistan’s going to be no different. I shudder at the thought of illiterate Pathans having more money than they know what to do with, just the same as with the illiterate Wahhabis in Saudi.

    From an Indian standpoint, we can easily meet most of our energy needs (about 150GW peak) through wind (45GW) and possibly solar (haven’t seen sizing yet). If we continue to use oil, let’s not complain about the terrorism it funds.

  6. To put in simple words : where there is oil, US forces is there to spoil. Afghan oil will bring US forces closer to Indian sphere of influence. So it brings more trouble than advantage.

  7. The Afghans need to be careful that they do not become another ‘oil colony’ as many did until they nationalized their resources. With Afghanistan being occupied again this danger is real, just as it was during the Russian occupation which the Russians got Afghan gas at half the world prices. The regime in Kabul is not capable of protecting the interests of the Afghan people, which should be the priority in any foreign dealings. Steven Blank and others should remember that. With oil and gas fields being in the north of Afghanistan, over ran by warlords like Dostum and Malik who should be tried as war criminals, the Pushtuns do not benefit any in the south. Get your facts straight.

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