Taliban signs first diplomatic deal with China over oil drilling project

Afghanistan’s Taliban regime has signed an oil drilling agreement with China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Oil and Gas Company (CAPEIC). This is the country’s first major foreign deal since the Taliban took control in 2021.

CAPEIC plans to invest $150 million over the next year and $540 million over the next three years in oil drilling in Afghanistan’s Amudarya Basin, according to Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.

“With this deal, the Islamic Emirate will become a 20% partner, increasing this share to 75%.” Twitter post on thursday.

Zabihullah said the oil will be extracted from an area covering 4,500 square kilometers (1,737 square miles) in Sar-e Pul, Jawzjan and Faryab provinces, gradually increasing the daily extraction rate from 1,000 to 2,000 tons. .

The contract is for 25 years and will automatically terminate if CAPEIC fails to meet its material obligations within one year, he added.

Amu Darya is the largest gas-rich basin in Central Asia and the third largest gas-rich basin in the world after the West Siberian Basin and the Persian Gulf Basin. 2019 research by PetroChina.

It is mainly located in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, northern Afghanistan and parts of northeastern Iran.

China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Afghanistan's Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradal in Tianjin
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Afghanistan’s Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradal in Tianjin, China, 28 July 2021. (Li Lan/Xinhua Reuters)

Since the Taliban took power in 2021, no country has recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, not even China. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to engage the Taliban for economic gain.

Afghanistan is home to an estimated $1 trillion of untapped resources, attracting foreign investor interest, but decades of turmoil have hampered vital exploitation. I got

In 2012, the state-owned National Petroleum Corporation of China signed a deal with the former US-backed Afghan government to extract oil at Amudarya. Amudarya is estimated to have had 87 million barrels of crude oil at the time.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradal said the new deal with the Taliban and CAPEIC was the result of another Chinese company, which he declined to name, halting oil drilling after the fall of the previous government.

‘Exaggerated threat’

The Chinese Communist Party allows the Taliban to keep its Afghan embassy in Beijing, humanitarian aid into Afghanistan, despite the lack of official recognition of the regime. Analysts believe security is another factor in the Chinese Communist Party’s support for the Taliban.

Jennifer Murtazashvili, an adjunct researcher in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Asia program, said in her: 2022 report The Chinese Communist Party was concerned that Islamic extremists could spread from Afghanistan to China and the Xinjiang region.

“China’s main security concern is the potential threat from the relatively small East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group seeking to free the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the Uyghur people from Chinese government control,” it said. she said.

“China aims to ensure that the Taliban are prepared to eliminate Uighur extremist groups operating within Afghan territory. It is important to emphasize that

The CAPEIC agreement came a day after the Taliban said its forces had killed eight ISIS members in the raid, including those responsible for an attack on a Chinese hotel in Kabul last month.

“Both parties have hinted that there are significant future investments by China in Afghanistan, but few details have emerged. because it is impossible,” the report said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aldogra Fredry

Aldgra Fredly is a Malaysia-based freelance writer covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.