(KABUL, Afghanistan) — An output of 5,000 barrels of oil a day doesn’t sound like much but it could be the beginning of a bonanza for Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the world.
Afghan Mining Ministry spokesman Jawad Omar announced on Wednesday that oil production is expected to start by October with the assistance of China’s National Petroleum Corporation.
It would mark the first time Afghanistan has drilled for oil in its history. The plan is to start with 5,000 barrels and work up to 45,000 barrels daily.
The initial drilling will take part in the “Afghan-Tajik” zone of northern Afghanistan, one of the areas that is relatively unscathed by war and where major oil deposits lie.
An estimated 87 million barrels of oil exist underground in that particular zone alone. Tapping it would help Afghanistan rely less on the crude it imports from Iran and Central Asia and add to its revenues.
Six oil deposits have been found so far in Afghanistan in the northern, western and southern parts of the country.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN