The Center for Grassroots Oversight

This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a100501deposits


Context of 'October 5, 2001: Study Reveals Significant Oil and Gas Deposits in Afghanistan'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event October 5, 2001: Study Reveals Significant Oil and Gas Deposits in Afghanistan. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia reach agreement with state companies in Turkmenistan and Russia to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan; the agreement is finalized in 1997. (Unocal 8/13/1996)

The Daily Telegraph publishes an interesting article about pipeline politics in Afghanistan. “Behind the tribal clashes that have scarred Afghanistan lies one of the great prizes of the 21st century, the fabulous energy reserves of Central Asia.… ‘The deposits are huge,’ said a diplomat from the region. ‘Kazakhstan alone may have more oil than Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan is already known to have the fifth largest gas reserves in the world.’” (Lockwood 10/11/1996)

Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan “has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets’ decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan’s proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet and production reached 275 million cubic feet per day in the mid-1970s.” Nonstop war since has prevented further exploitation. (Devraj 10/5/2001) A later article suggests that the country may also have as much copper as Chile, the world’s largest producer, and significant deposits of coal, emeralds, tungsten, lead, zinc, uranium ore, and more. Estimates of Afghanistan’s natural wealth may even be understated, because surveys were conducted decades ago, using less-advanced methods and covering limited territory. (Basken 12/23/2001)

According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia, with the control of oil as a prominent motive: “While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia—and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea.” (Rutland 10/15/2001) The US later appears to gain military influence over Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country with the most resource wealth, and closest to the Russian heartland (see March 30, 2002).

Former petroleum geologist Bob Morton, now with the US Geological Survey, concludes in a paper that the oil and gas industry’s extraction of millions of barrels of oil, trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, and tens of millions of barrels of saline formation water lying with the petroleum deposits has caused a reduction in subsurface pressure causing underground faults to slip and the land above to subside. “Subsidence rates in coastal Louisiana associated with natural compaction and dewatering of Holocene deltaic sediments should decrease with time; therefore historical rates of delta plain subsidence that accelerate and typically exceed geological subsidence rates are most likely influenced by anthropogenic activities, such as subsurface fluid extraction.” (Morton, Buster, and Krohn 2002 pdf file; Bourne 10/2004) The oil industry and its consultants dispute Morton’s theory, but fail to disprove it. If Morton is correct, any restoration efforts in the area could fail as they would be unable to offset the high rates of subsidence. (Bourne 10/2004)

A delegation from India visits Pakistan to discuss cooperation in the oil and gas sectors. The 11-person delegation is headed by Indian Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Mani Shankar Aiyar. The two countries agree to establish a working group to review the legal, technical, commercial, and financial parameters of the proposed Iran-India-Pakistan gas pipeline (see 1993 and January 27, 2003) that would transport natural gas 2,775 km from Iran to India via Pakistan. They plan to start the project by December 31, 2005. (Islamic Republic News Agency 6/5/2005; Kumar 6/5/2005) At a press conference on June 6, Aiyar is asked about US concerns expressed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in March (see March 19, 2005) that the pipeline would strengthen Iran. Aiyar responds that construction of the pipeline is contigent only upon an agreement being made between India and Pakistan. (Kumar 6/5/2005) India and Pakistan also discuss the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) pipeline (see January 18, 2005), which they agree should extend to India. (Kumar 6/5/2005; Jan 6/5/2005) The delegation also explores the possibility of exporting Indian diesel to Pakistan. (Islamic Republic News Agency 6/5/2005)


Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike