Turkish firms to explore gold in Afghan territory

Turkish firms to explore gold in Afghan territory

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Turkish firms to explore gold in Afghan territory

Energy Minister Yıldız (L) hails the future of Turkish-Afghan energy and mineral exploration during a meeting with Afghan President Karzai. DHA Photo

Turkish company has won four tenders for gold exploration in a 1,000-square-meter area in Afghanistan, outbidding 70 contestant firms, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said yesterday during his visit to the country, adding that Turkish state-run oil company TPAO would initially invest more than $100 million in the country.

“We believe that Turkey and Afghanistan, which have deep ties, have a big potential for joint work. The public and private sector will explore Afghanistan’s natural and underground resources together,” Yıldız said.

He stated that a Turkish firm had become the winner of four tenders that would allow it to carry out valuable mineral exploration, including that of gold, during his visit with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who also eyes Turkish investments in the country. He added that the General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration (MTA) would take part in exploration of rich mine resources in Afghanistan.

TPAO had won the tender for oil exploration and production in the provinces of Mazar-i Sharif and Sandıklı with its partners Kuwait Energy, Dragon Oil and the Afghan Ghazanfer Group. The tender involved exploration rights in the Tajik Basin in northern Afghanistan, where oil reserves are estimated at more than 1 billion barrels.

“One third of the investment in the area worth $150 million will be financed by TPAO,” he said, adding that the TPAO bid for four well-drilling tenders was worth $60 million. He noted that TPAO had already started the rehabilitation work of eight natural gas wells at an investment value of $10 million. “TPAO will make investments worth more than $100 million for the first time,” he stressed.

Electricity generation potential

Yıldız also noted that Afghanistan has an investment potential for electricity generation of 23,000 megawatts worth $30 billion. Afghan ministers said they wanted Turkish firms to evaluate the rich water resources of the country to transform them into electricity generation, he said.

Energy companies are exploring new frontiers in the pursuit of fresh reserves as they exhaust existing fields, and Afghanistan, after decades of conflict, remains little explored. However, the Afghan government, which is entirely reliant on fuel imports from neighboring Iran and Central Asian countries, has been eying ways to exploit its natural resources to compensate for the loss of revenues when foreign aid and spending drops with the withdrawal of international combat troops by the end of 2014.