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 CNPC wins Afghan oilfield bid
CreateTime:2011-09-06     Source:shanghaidaily Editor:qulina
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CHINA National Petroleum Corp, the nation's biggest oil and gas company, has won a bid to develop an oilfield auctioned in north Afghanistan, beating rivals from Australia, Britain, the United States and Pakistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet late last month approved the Mines Ministry's decision to allow CNPC to drill for oil in three blocks of the Amu Darya basin, a geological zone that extends into Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Jawad Omar, a ministry spokesman, said by telephone yesterday.

The award is China's second prominent acquisition of Afghan raw materials after the Metallurgical Corp of China won the right in 2007 to mine the country's biggest known copper deposit at Aynak, south of Kabul.

While foreign investors have hesitated to enter Afghanistan because of the decade-long war, the fighting affects the northwest less than most other regions. The blocks awarded to CNPC cover a region of mostly barren hills with few paved roads and one operating oil well at Angot.

"The Cabinet has given the Mines Ministry 30 days, starting September 12, to finalize a deal with CNPC based on the terms of their bid," Omar said.

"If the contract is not agreed by then, we will negotiate with the Australian company," Buccaneer Energy Ltd, which the Cabinet approved as the alternate choice, he said.

The Kashkari, Bazarkhami and Zamarudsay blocks contain an "estimated median crude oil reserve" of 80 million barrels of oil, and the US Geological Survey has estimated a potential for another 80 million barrels, the ministry said. Afghanistan may hold 1.6 billion barrels of undiscovered and recoverable crude oil, plus about 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the US agency has said.

The ministry earlier approved three bidders besides CNPC and Buccaneer: Tethys Petroleum Ltd, a London-based, Toronto-listed energy company; Shazhad International of Pakistan; and Houston-based Schlumberger Ltd, the world's largest oilfield-services provider. Schlumberger pulled out of the running and did not offer a bid, Omar said.

The Amu Darya blocks are Afghanistan's first to be tendered internationally in four decades.

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