From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Jun 23 07:19:17 2002
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 10:27:54 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Cheney's Halliburton provided services to Turkmenistan before
Some of us have heard about the great oil resources around the Caspian Sea.
But few would think that rocky, war torn Afghanistan might be part of this energy production picture.
Yet it most certainly is.
The vast energy reserves in Central Asia and the Caucasus have made the region a priority for the United States.
Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint, stems from its geographic position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea.
This potential includes proposed multi-billion dollar oil and gas export pipelines through Afghanistan.
These pipelines would begin in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan.
The potential of Turkmenistan is enormous.
Just inland from the Caspian shore are some of the world's oldest oil fields.
Geological surveys during the Soviet era also indicated that the prospect for offshore finds are good.
In the trackless Karakum/Garagum Desert, away from a thin line of irrigated valleys, geologists have discovered one gas field after another, beginning in the 1960s.
Almost all of this gas was pumped north across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into a Russian pipeline and on to markets in Europe and the former Soviet republics.
In 1997 top government officials and oil company executives from the United States, Turkey, Great Britain, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Central Asia, met to discuss an issue of great mutual concern :
Pipeline routes for Caspian oil and gas.
The initial enthusiast for the Afghan route was the chairman of the Bridas Group, an Argentine company.
In 1993, a Bridas joint venture with Turkmenistan had begun laying more than 2,000 miles of seismic lines to map the geology of a potential gas field in eastern Turkmenistan.
Two test wells confirmed a huge gas deposit 150 miles from the Afghan border.
In the spring of 1995, Turkmenistan and Pakistan commissioned Bridas to study the Afghan route.
That summer a rival entered the game.
The president of California based Unocal Corp had a vision of a Unocal pipeline following roughly the same route as the one proposed by Bridas.
By early 1998 a Unocal led consortium had made a deal with the Taliban to construct an Afghanistan pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.
The most obvious drawback of the proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, to Pakistan and down to the Arabian Sea, was the civil war in Afghanistan.
Unocal was the company leading the international consortium to construct the central Asian pipeline through Afghanistan.
The basic problem with the existing and proposed western routes, across northern Russia, or to ports on the Black Sea, or under the Caspian and down to Turkey, is that they all lead to European markets.
Western Europe is characterized by high prices for oil products, an aging population, and increasing competition from natural gas. Furthermore, the region is fiercely competitive.
Western Europe is being serviced by fields in the Middle East, the North Sea, Scandinavia, and Russia.
Western Europe is not a very attractive market for Central Asia's oil because substantial infrastructure would have to be developed to bring the oil from the Caspian.
Much the same is true of Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
But Asia is a completely different story.
Asia will be the fastest growing market for Caspian oil.
Even if the region's present financial crisis should lead to a prolonged economic slowdown.
Pipelines are the best method of transporting oil and gas over land.
Three pipeline routes from the Caspian to the Asian markets have been proposed:
 through China  through Iran  through Afghanistan
Pipeline route  is too long and will probably be prohibitively expensive.
Pipeline route  is opposed by the US government.
Pipeline route  has the advantage of terminating in the Arabian Sea.
And the Arabian Sea is close to the key Asian markets.