Gulf States Show Interest in Afghan Oil and Mining Sector

Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani

Afghan Minister of Mining Wahidullah Shahrani said last Tuesday that his country is preparing to accommodate foreign investments in mining, oil and gas, including counterpart companies from the Gulf Cooperation states.

“We have been communicating with Kuwait Energy and calls are being made with Emaar Mining (United Arab Emirates) and Maaden (Saudi Arabia). Both the Saudis and the Emiratis are very keen on copper and gold,” Shahrani told a group of Kuwaiti journalists in Kabul.

Deals with China

The Afghan government is on the verge of signing a trade agreement with China’s largest oil and gas company, CNPC. In the next few days CNPC will complete a deal which will allow then to extract and refine oil from the Amu Darya basin in the northwestern part of Afghanistan.

CNPC already has a contract to take oil via pipeline from the neighboring Turkmenistan, where they built an oil pipeline which transports oil from there all the way to China.

India, Canada Also Bidding

Companies from some of the world’s largest economies, such as China, India and Canada, have acquired the bidding rights for the development of valuable minerals including copper and iron ore deposits which are located both north and south of Kabul.

Minister Shahrani has been instrumental in simplifying the procedures required for foreign investors since he took over his position as minister of mining, including placing oil and gas development into the same office as mining.

Untapped Resources

According to US government estimates there is about $3 trillion worth of as of now untapped natural resources in Afghanistan including Niobium, Lithium, Copper, Iron-ore, Cobalt, gems and oil and gas. The goal of the Afghan government is to diversify foreign investments in the development of these resources between as many countries as possible. With many millions and billions of dollars in investment money coming into the country Afghanistan hopes it will be able to rebuild its destroyed infrastructure and reduce considerably its dependence on foreign aid.

Not just money will be pumped into Afghanistan. “Transportation is a major problem,” added Shahrani, pointing out that Afghanistan is landlocked, making it hard to bring goods and building materials to businesses. To solve this problem Afghanistan has asked investors who are in the excavation industry to build railways. “These railways will later be used to carry passengers,” the minister emphasized.

These kinds of projects will also bring jobs to the country, as many as 10.6 million is estimated, a figure representing one third of the country’s 29 million residents.