|At a Glance:
During the Soviets' decade-long occupation
of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable
natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet. In the mid-1970s,
production reached 275 million cubic feet per day.
But Afghanistan's significance to the balance of energy and power
in Central Asia stems from its geographical position as a potential
transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to
the Arabian Sea.
In January 1998, an agreement was signed between Pakistan,
Turkmenistan, and the Taliban
to arrange funding for a proposed 890-mile, US$2 billion natural
gas pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would have transported
natural gas from Turkmenistan's Dauletabad natural gas field to Pakistan,
and most likely would have run from Dauletabad south to the Afghan
border, through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, to Quetta, Pakistan.
The line would then have linked with Pakistan's natural gas grid at
Sui. U.S. oil company Unocal was to finance the bulk of the project.
As it happened, Unocal pulled-out of the deal, citing political instability
In addition to the gas pipeline, Unocal also had considered building
a 1,000-mile oil pipeline that would link Chardzou, Turkmenistan with
Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast via Afghanistan.
Currently, a pipeline brings natural gas from Uzbekistan to Bagram
and another brings natural gas to Shindand.
Population: 26,813,057 (July 2001
Sources: U.S. Dept. of Energy,
CIA World Factbook, Center for Strategic Studies, East-West Institute