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Risks hamper Afghanistan’s exploration ambitions

Security problems will keep hampering Afghan upstream plans. Pipeline transit fees offer the best hope for energy income

In 2012, the Afghan government embarked on a major effort to kick start upstream oil and gas developments, hoping to lure explorers. There was interest, even from ExxonMobil. By the end of that year, China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) had started producing the country’s first oil. But security risks, difficult investment conditions and concerns over potential corruption have, inevitably, slowed the pace of development. CNPC signed a 25-year contract with Afghanistan in December 2011 to drill and build a refinery in the northern provinces of Faryab and Sar-e-Pul, as the cash-strapped country attempted to cut down on a $3 billion oil-import bill spent on supply from Turkmenista

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