12 Apr 2024 17:56

CNPC starts developing promising Bokhtar oil and gas field in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE. April 12 (Interfax) - China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has started work on the Bokhtar project, a project to search for and develop new hydrocarbon deposits in the southwestern part of Tajikistan.

"The practical implementation of the CNPC oil and gas project has started in Bokhtar. The project is part of the Afghan-Tajik depression, which, some say, has large oil and gas deposits, 40% of which are located on the territory of Tajikistan," Tajik media said, citing the country's Energy and Water Resources Ministry.

The corporation hopes to identify a large volume of oil and gas reserves "in the very near future," CNPC General Director for Central Asia Bian Dezhy said at the project launch ceremony

The corporation, together with other companies and relevant government agencies in Tajikistan, have been working on this for many years and, "despite many difficulties, were able to bring the Bokhtar project to a new stage of development," he said.

The first part of the project covers the southwest of the Tajik depression up to the junction of the borders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Initially, geological exploration work will be conducted on an area of 15.3 sq. km. There will be 25 highly qualified Chinese technical specialists and 190 citizens of Tajikistan involved in the implementation.

The lower house of the Parliament of Tajikistan ratified an additional agreement between the government of the country, CNPC Central Asia and Total E&P Tajikistan at the end of March this year. It involved France's Total ceding its share in the Bokhtar project in favor of the Chinese corporation.

The Tajik government initially concluded a production sharing agreement for the development of the large Bokhtar area (about 36,000 sq. km.) in 2008 with Kulob Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of Canadian Tethys Petroleum, which withdrew from the project in 2017.

The license was granted for a period of 25 years. Tethys reported the discovery of "truly super-giant" oil and gas reserves in 2012. The company estimated them without taking into account the risk factor at 27.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, 69% of which is gas, and 31% oil and gas condensate.

After these statements, Total and CNPC showed interest in the structure, and agreements on the provision of participation shares were signed with them in 2013. As a result, Tethys, Total and CNPC each received 33.335% in the PSA. As per the agreements, the government of Tajikistan does not participate in development and production and is not investing funds in this project.

CNPC and Total demanded that Tethys Petroleum withdraw from the project in 2015 because it had not met its financial obligations and had accumulated debts. The case went to trial, and in 2017, international arbitration recognized the claims of Total and CNPC as justified.