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U.S. Agency Increases Estimates of Afghan Petroleum Resources

15 March 2006

Oil resources estimate increased 18-fold, natural gas estimate tripled

Washington -- Afghanistan's petroleum resource base is much larger than previously thought, according to the first assessment completed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Industry.

The estimates increase the oil resources 18 times and more than triple the natural gas resources, according to a March 14 USGS press release.

The assessment was conducted over the past two years, with funding provided by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Undiscovered petroleum resources in the assessed region of northern Afghanistan range from 100 billion cubic meters to more than 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Estimates of oil range from 0.391 billion barrels to 3.559 billion barrels. Estimates for natural gas liquids range from 126 million barrels to 1,325 million barrels.

"I am delighted that the work of the survey of Afghanistan’s mineral and underground resources is proceeding well,” said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, “and that some very positive findings about our petroleum resources are being reported.”

Karzai thanked the United States and the USGS, adding, “Knowing more about our country’s petroleum resources will enable us to take steps to develop our energy potential, which is crucial for our country’s growth.”

Afghanistan is a land-locked country bordered by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on the north, Iran on the west and Pakistan on the east and south.

The country imports most of its energy, including electricity. The petroleum resource assessment gives Afghanistan information needed for conducting future lease sales and is likely to be of interest to oil and gas exploration companies.

Much of Afghanistan’s petroleum resource potential and all the known crude oil and natural gas reserves are in northern Afghanistan, located in parts of two geologic basins -- Amu Darya Basin to the west and Afghan-Tajik Basin to the east. Most undiscovered crude oil is in the Afghan-Tajik Basin, and most undiscovered natural gas is in the Amu Darya Basin.

The assessment followed a widely accepted standard USGS methodology and protocol. It was based on the geologic elements of a total petroleum system and data from detailed studies of geochemistry, petroleum geology, geophysics and tectonics.

Historical exploration and production analyses also were used to help estimate the number and sizes of undiscovered petroleum accumulations. The total area assessed was about 86,000 square kilometers.

Results of the assessment and updates are available at the USGS Web site, as is the full text of the press release.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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