China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), a Chinese oil company with major investments in Afghanistan, has reportedly put the brakes on its massive drilling operation in the Amu Darya basin of , Afghanistan after disagreements emerged over the exact conditions set for the transportation of oil out of the country.
Sixteen CNPC officials are said to have already left Afghanistan and headed back to China.
According to officials at the Ministry of Mines (MoM), the project was temporarily halted due to a delay in the signing of a transit agreement with Uzbekistan, which would facilitate the transportation of crude oil extracted from the Amu Darya basin back to China. Once the agreement is signed, MoM officials assured that CNPC would resume its operations.
"The project is stopped until we reach an agreement and sign the agreement. But other operations are ongoing in the region, like exploration, seismic surveying and other activities." explained Mohammad Rafi Rafiq Sediqi, spokesman of the MoM
The oil extraction operation in the Amu Darya basin was contracted to CNPC and an Afghan oil company, Watan Oil and Gas, back in the fall of 2012. The companies began working in October, but the Chinese company has already constructed a refinery in the area.
MoM officials said that CNPC is legally permitted to export oil from the basin for a period of three years.