Afghan official gives details of Turkmen gas supply contract

Jan 26, 2003 01:00 AM

by Shafiqa Haidari

Black gold or fuel is one of the vital and main needs whose availability in each country strengthens the economic basis. In addition development and expansion of the fuel market in each country has a direct link to the economic developments and lately the most important kind of fuel has become a major issue on the market.
In connection to the above issue, Mr Ahmad Jan Kakar, the head of the fuel department in Herat, explained the problems of gas as well as the outcome of his trip to Turkmenistan, as follows: To solve the problem (shortage of gas), recently a delegation including the head of the chamber of commerce, the head of the foreign relations department and myself left for Turkmenistan. We had a letter from esteemed Herat governor Emir Esmail Khan for Mr Saparmurat Niyazov, the president of Turkmenistan.

There were also some other letters from the ministries of foreign affairs and commerce for Turkmen officials. Due to some reasons we were not able to meet Mr Niyazov, nonetheless, the issue was explained to Mr Niyazov by the ambassador of Afghanistan in Turkmenistan over the phone. Mr Niyazov himself approved a $ 24 discount per ton of gas and approved a total of 36,000 tons of gas to be supplied from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.
At the same time the Mehraban company took over the delivery of 15,000 tons of gas at the same cost, and a contract was placed with Mehraban to transport a total of 41,000 tons. Very soon these cargoes will arrive at Torghondi border point so that the problem of the people in Afghanistan in terms of gas will be solved.

Question: What will the distribution process be for the imported gas?

Mr Kakar: I should say that the contracted amount of gas in this department will be distributed to various companies and the allocation for each company has been fixed. Of course some of the companies that have more capacity for distribution of gas for some other provinces may take over the allocation of other companies which have less capacity and facilities in distribution, so that the gas reaches the people on time and in different parts of the country.

Question: Why is a fuel that is regarded as a prime necessity not been restricted?

Answer: We may face some problems if we make it exclusive. As a result, I think, it would be better if we prefer sound competition to rationing, as we can discount the prices with healthy competition, and on the other hand the private sector has worldwide importance.
If we make fuel and gas restricted we may have not the capacity to cover all Afghanistan in terms of energy, and this will cause more problems. The price for fuel and gas will be announced every day and it is not fixed, and we have regarded the price as a formula. While making the contract, the price for each ton of gas, according to the assessment made by the companies was lower, but since that time an increase of $ 40 has occurred.

I mean that the rate was $ 340 and has increased to $ 382. Given a total $ 382 per ton, Turkmenistan will provide the gas to our country at $ 109 per ton less. In addition, under the agreement which was made with the government of Afghanistan, there will be a 20-per-cent decrease from the original price in the event of any such reduction in the world price, and because of this we cannot keep the price fixed.
We hope to distribute the gas canisters at the discounted price. I should mention that in order not to confront problems in the future in the process of gas distribution, the activities of other gas companies will be suspended or they should participate in an association so that we can serve our people in a better way.

Question: At the end, please say if the transitional Islamic administration of Afghanistan or who has paid the money for the contracted 41,000 tons of gas?

Answer: Esteemed Emir Saheb (Herat governor) gave us $ 1.8 mm. Fortunately, we did not have to deliver this money as advance payment is not the policy of Turkmenistan. They take an amount only for 10 tankers before loading, so thatover the period of time the money should be paid for each tanker delivered.

Question: Was the mentioned amount of $ 1.8 mm reimbursed to Herat bank or was it kept in Turkmenistan?

Answer: We transferred this amount through the chamber of commerce and the Zuri Khan company to Dubai, and from Dubai it will be transferred to Herat.

Question: From which source will you pay the commission of this transfer by the Zuri Khan company?

Answer: The companies in the association will sustain any loss or commission for the mentioned amount.

Source: BBC Monitoring South Asia - Political
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