$12b oil & gas extraction deal signed with 3 firms

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): An agreement on oil and gas extraction from the Afghan-Tajik basin in northeastern Afghanistan was signed on Tuesday with three companies, which would invest $12 billion in the energy-starved country, an official said.

A Ministry of Mining official, Jalil Ahmad, told reporters at the signing ceremony in Mazar-i-Sharif the oil and gas basin, located between Takhar and Jawzjan provinces, had been discovered in 1957. But the domestic situation did not allow exploitation of the deposits. 

Of the 20 firms which submitted extraction bids for two fields, eight had experience in the field, according to the official, who said the contract had been inked with the Turkish Petroleum International Company (TPIC), Drago Oil (UAE) and the Ghazanfar Group of Afghanistan.

Jalil Ahmad said extraction from the two fields would begin in three to five years, with the firms expected to invest $12 billion in 12 years. The fields are estimated to contain 514 million barrels of oil and 91 billion cubic metres of natural gas.

The oil and gas hauled up from the fields would be used to meet domestic consumption before being exported, the official said, adding the project would initially create 1,000 jobs -- a number that would increase to 12,000 with time.

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