Afghanistan to pump oil for the first time
Afghanistan will start pumping oil for the first time within five months, an official said yesterday, as part of the nation's efforts to tap underground treasures estimated to be worth billions.
China's National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and its Afghan partner the Watan Group will initially produce 5,000 barrels a day, mining ministry spokesman Jawad Omar told AFP.
This would be the first extraction of oil in Afghanistan, a mineral-rich country that is still one of the poorest in the world after three decades of war.
The extraction will start in the "Afghan-Tajik Zone", one of the major oil deposits along the Amu Darya river border in relatively peaceful northern Afghanistan, the spokesman said.
Under a deal signed last December, the oil will be processed in refineries already being built within Afghanistan, with Kabul taking 70 percent of the net profits on top of a 15 percent corporation tax.
The Afghan-Tajik deposit is estimated to contain about 87 million barrels of oil, relatively small globally but significant for a poverty-stricken country heavily dependent on Western aid.
Afghanistan currently imports all its oil and most of its gas, mostly from Central Asian countries and Iran, which on Monday signed a deal to supply its neighbour with a million tonnes of fuel oil, petrol and aviation fuel a year.