KABUL - A bidding process for oil and gas extraction in 31000 square kilometers of the Afghan-Tajik basin in the northeast would start on March 7, an official said on Saturday.
Six oil and gas zones were recently identified in the energy-deficient country -- Afghan-Tajik, Amu River, Koshk, Terpul in Herat, Kotawas and Helmand.
The Afghan-Tajik basin was found by a Canadian company ahead of the March 7 bidding, the head of hydrocarbons survey for northern provinces at the Ministry of Mines, Eng. Nazar Mohammad, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The area starts from Hindokush Mountains in the east to the Amu River in the west and to Albarz mountains of Balkh province in the south.
He said a survey conducted by US engineers had estimated 444 billion cubic meters of liquefied gas, 219 million tons of oil and 70 million tons of condensate oil in the Amu River and Afghan-Tajik fields.
Minister of Mines Wahidullah Sharani says the Amu River fields are estimated to contain 87 million barrels of oil. However, he believes, the deposits may be much more than estimated.
On December 28, 2011, Afghanistan and China signed their first-ever oil and gas deal that would earn the landlocked country $7 billion (344.4 billion afghanis) over the next two decades and a half.
Under the major oil exploration agreement, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will develop three oil fields along the Amu River in northern Sar-i-Pul and Faryab provinces.
Shahrani and CNPC President Lu Gong Xun signed the accord, giving Afghanistan 70 percent of net profits. The Ministry of Mines says bids for extraction of oil in the zone will be invited next summer.