What's at Stake for Whom
Afghanistan

At a Glance:

Map of Afghanistan
CIA map
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 Afghanistan.

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 est.)

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Energy, CIA World Factbook, Center for Strategic Studies, East-West Institute