Afghanistan’s energy needs significantly outweigh its domestic production. Today, only 10-12% of Afghan citizens have access to electricity, and the country needs an influx of energy resources and infrastructure to provide reliable power throughout the country. In addition to exploiting domestic hydropower and importing energy from neighboring countries, Afghanistan also possesses another potential power source – the Shibirghan gas fields.
The Shibirghan gas fields hold potentially significant reserves of clean-burning natural gas, but years of war and lack of resources have prevented continued exploration and development. In cooperation with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, USAID recently launched an initiative to test the fields’ wells to determine whether they contain enough gas to fuel a 100-megawatt electrical power plant and a fertilizer production plant. The plants would benefit Afghans greatly through the clean power produced and new jobs created both directly and indirectly through increased electricity to factories and businesses.
In March 2009, a 36-truck convoy drove over 3,000 km from Anatolia, Turkey to bring necessary drilling equipment to the gas fields in the northern province of Jawzjan. The trucks carried 550 tons of machinery, which will be used to test the viability of Afghanistan’s natural gas to produce electricity at the proposed power plant. While the journey was logistically daunting, the arrival of the machinery signals progress in the effort to provide more electricity to Afghanistan’s people.