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Old 01-12-2010   #101
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Appreciate the article it's an interesting one.

Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
Financial Times had the latest on the opening of the Northern Route, and hearty encouragement for the line through Afghanistan to India via Pakistan:
"From hell, through hell, to hell."

Strange but typical business arguments about united all stakeholders, and long-term benefits if Taliban will join up with Pashtun brethren to reap the benefits...
Here are some more Afghanistan energy centric jigsaw pieces:

Wikipedia on the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP)

On 24 April 2008, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan signed a framework agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan.[6]
The pipeline will be 1,420 millimetres (56 in) in diameter with a working pressure of 100 standard atmospheres (10,000 kPa).[7] The initial capacity will be 27 billion cubic meter (bcm) of natural gas per year of which 2 bcm will be provided to Afghanistan and 12.5 bcm to each Pakistan and India. Later the capacity will increase to 33 bcm.[8] Six compressor stations would be constructed along the pipeline.[7] The pipeline was expected to be operational by 2014.[9]

The cost of the pipeline is estimated cost at US$7.6 billion.[6] The project is to be financed by the Asian Development Bank.[10]
The Afghanistan Energy Profile from the EIA. The estimate for natural gas reserves is in the neighborhood of 1,750 billion cubic feet. (website acessed on 11 Jan '10) (1 cubic meter = 35.3146667 cubic foot)

The Afghanistan Country Study, Foreign Area Studies, The American University, Edited by Richard F. Nyrop and Donald M. Seekins, Research completed, January 1986.

Chapter 3 covers the Economy and Mining info starts on page 192 (55 of the pdf).

Natural gas was the most important mineral resource and industrial product. The country was thought to possess 110 to 150 billion cubic meters of total reserves. With Soviet assistance, production began in 1967 at the Kwoja Gugerdak field, 15 kilometers east of Sbeberghan in Jowzjan Province. The field’s reserves were thought to be 67 billion cubic meters. The Soviets also completed in 1967 a IOO-kilometer gas pipeline, 820 millimeters in diameter, linking Keleft in the Soviet Union with Sheberghan. Other fields were discovered at Kwaja Bolan, Yatim Taq, and Jousik, with reserves of about 2.5 billion cubic meters. Gas production rose from I.68 billion cubic meters in 1968 to 2.8 billion in 1980. In 1982 a new field at Jarquduk, also in Jowzjan, started production, again with Soviet aid
For scale the EIA (website acessed on 11 Jan '10) Qatar Energy Profile estimate for natural gas reserves is in the neighborhood of 910,520 billion cubic feet and the Turkmenistan Energy Profile estimate for natural gas reserves is at 71,000 billion cubic feet. (1 cubic meter = 35.3146667 cubic foot)

Bloomberg tracks commodity futures here. As of 11 Jan '10 the NATURAL GAS FUTR (USD/MMBtu) 5.485 and 1 of natural gas = 1000 BTU = 252 kilocalories per this website (Energy Policy & Planning Office, Ministry of Energy, Thailand) while Wikipedia notes that "1 standard cubic foot of natural gas yields ≈ 1030 BTU (between 1010 BTU and 1070 BTU, depending on quality, when burned)" and that 'MMBTU represent one million BTU'.

Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
Seems out of place for a couple of reasons: First, corruption---How are all these long-term stakeholders supposed to perceive/receive a benefit in the current climate? Second, another reason to unite Taliban and Pashtuns for an inter-border "benefit" for Pashtunistan. No?
As you know from Iraq identifying and empowering moderates is very tricky business. Our DoS friends have their work cut out for them

Sapere Aude

Last edited by Surferbeetle; 01-12-2010 at 03:44 AM. Reason: Estimates, Costs, & Conversions...
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Old 01-12-2010   #102
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Default Afghan resources gone?


IIRC the Afghan gas and oil fields were heavily reduced during the Soviet intervention, even to the point they had been exhausted. What is the current state of those fields? I have not looked any further.
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Old 01-12-2010   #103
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AFP - Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine

USGS - Assessment of Undiscovered Petroleum Resources of Northern Afghanistan

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey–Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Industry Joint Oil and Gas Resource Assessment Team estimated mean volumes of undiscovered petroleum in northern Afghanistan; the resulting estimates are 1,596 million barrels of crude oil, 15,687 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and 562 million barrels of natural gas liquids. Most of the undiscovered crude oil is in the Afghan-Tajik Basin, and most of the undiscovered natural gas is in the Amu Darya Basin.
Afghanistan has quite a bit of mineral wealth that, in the absence of conflict, could bring it a reasonable resource base for development. Of course that would require ending the insurgency so that investors would feel comfortable expending the billions required to get at it, and an Afghan government that could avoid the resource curse.

Last edited by tequila; 01-12-2010 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 01-22-2010   #104
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Default GDP vs opium

Alcon - I've been uncharacteristically quiet the last few weeks. Work got in the way. I hate it when that happens.

I'm a retired AID officer, enjoying the Iraqi sun for past 3 years, with a bit of time in Helmand before that. Lovely place.
You are correct in your assertion that all economics, like politics, is local. Village residents aren't concerned with Khandahar, let alone Kabul, until political authorities involve themselves in the economic sphere. For example, when it got on its feet in 2003, the first act of the state-run cotton gin in Helmand was to have the police burn the nine private gins so as to regain its monopoly. So the AID program got out of cotton. We tried lentils -- big Indian market, durable commodity, and a simple value chain -- except that we misunderstood the friction costs of transport. By the time the payoffs were done, there was no profit left for the marketer. So we got out of lentils. Wheat was the default crop, and we noticed a lot of dried poppies hanging in sheds.
Nonetheless, the adage about think globally but act locally works in conflictive situations. If you can survive the Kabul-speak, we found that the best approach in crops was to ask villagers what they could sell. We traced the truckers and their routes to sketch the market links to estimate returns to the farmer. This approach was successful in Charikar with raisins, but we never found a good (licit) crop for Helmand.
Hope you have better luck!!
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Old 01-22-2010   #105
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Bill, Apologies for coming late to the discussion. I'm retired AID after Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and others. A jarhead, I don't know how AID let me in.

Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Surferbettle your post,

- How much of our economic aide in these countries actually supports the efforts of our foes? I just looked a graph today that showed a correlation between CERP spending and reduced violence, but is that the real picture, or did we simply forfeit control to the enemy, thus there is no need to fight?

- Once black economy models are established (such as the illicit business transfers on the cell phones, selling gas illegally on the side of the road, narcotics trade, human smuggling, kidnap for ransom, etc.) is it even feasible to displace this black economy with a legal economy?

- There are estimates that up to one third of the world's economic activity takes place in the black economy which equates to over a trillion dollars that governments have no control over. What does the ever increasing convergence of crime and extremism mean to those of us who develop and execute plans in an attempt to defeat terrorists and insurgents?

- Are there cases where our economic development efforts actually undermine successful black economic development, thus push the populace away from us and the HN? For example, attempting to eradicate the poppy plant and replace it with some form of unskilled labor or with a replacement crop that isn't worth as much?

There is a lot more to economic development than meets the eye when you're operating in these chaos zones.
Re CERP and less violence -- why chance a fight when the resources are being given away at no risk? And over and over again!

Re black economic activities -- Some activities, eg, human trafficking, drug smuggling, kidnapping are indeed criminal and wrong. Cops and maybe the Coast Guard are the correct response. But selling gas by the side of the road? Ripping off electrical service? "Facilitation" at the port? These are all highly profitable outcomes of government policies that allow perversion of licit economic activities. Cops can't solve them -- it's gotta be the folks who negotiate "reform" with the host government.

Re pushing the population away -- a great example is the takedown of the Cali cartel in Colombia. We caught the big fish, but the little fish scattered like drops of mercury and kept on exporting. The loss of the cartel leaders -- the big local property investors -- set the city back 20 years. And Calenos know what country did the job. Killing the coca or poppy plant in the field makes us the clear source of the farmer's incipient poverty. More better we got good at taking out the processors/warehouses.
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Old 01-25-2010   #106
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Default Got that one right

Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
Been saying this since my first day is the COG and the Enemy is a system......not a country. If you read the document you will find a quote where he says a criminal/bandit organization operates exactly the same way as an insurgency only their motive and final goal is different.
Slapout sums it up neatly.

Whether it's Colombia, Sinaloa, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Lebanon. The motive is acquisition of power, and that power rests on finances/economics, discriminate use of force, and acquiesence by the population to the rules and benefits adminstered by the insurgent or criminal. The unworthy government that RAND would have us beware of, too often looks similar to the black hats when viewed from the village level.

Many billions later, we seem to be arguing which of the three legs is themost important. Unfortunately, the insurgent/criminal seems able to stand on only one leg if he has to.
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Old 01-26-2010   #107
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I read a few Rand Studies on COIN/CIVMIL stuff. I don't think they even know how to begin to understand the problems---so they just throw jargon at them and keep moving.

No doubt, you've seen you share of that klind of advice.

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Old 01-26-2010   #108
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Thumbs up great comments, Ross

Originally Posted by Ross Wherry View Post
The unworthy government that RAND would have us beware of, too often looks similar to the black hats when viewed from the village level.
Indeed, even a "worthy" government --which we're light years away from in Afghanistan--can still look rather unappealing to populations who (while wanting greater access to resources) also rather prize their current local autonomy.

Originally Posted by Ross Wherry View Post
Many billions later, we seem to be arguing which of the three legs is the most important. Unfortunately, the insurgent/criminal seems able to stand on only one leg if he has to.
Plus they don't have to sit through endless facile powerpoints about "3D", all-of-government approaches. That prospect alone would be enough to get me to join the Taliban
They mostly come at night. Mostly.
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Old 01-26-2010   #109
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Default Economic and Illicit vs. Informal

All, sorry to budge in on this post and take it back some posts, but I saw some areas/questions that were not really addressed and I may be able to shed some different thinking.

Initially, the post addressing Economics was brought up to assess an area. Through the posts it came to Illicit Activities as perhaps another more viable approach to COIN and IW-related activities.

I'd like to draw you back to the systems-approach of understanding an ecosystem of the immediate and outskirts of an environment. Economics is certainly a part of this, and as many have posted--the local level is core. But going back to a dynamic systems approach where one looks at the associations and intersections of activity, you may see that in fact when it comes to hunting finance and value exchanges the core may be informal economies---not illicit. Also not economics but the micro and macro version of the formal and informal economic transactional structure and how value exchanges take place from social favors and obligations to commodity items (livestock, produce, clothes, land, ...) to actual monetary items through the banking system (again informal and formal where hawala meets 1st Bank of X).

Again, it comes back to the human terrain and social culture and history to know how life takes place on a daily basis and how sub-systems of an illicit activity blend into normal every day life because for locals it is part of every day and is not illicit in their eyes. A porter carrying raw opium across a border may not be conducting an illicit activity as much as in his eyes is doing his daily porter job within his tribal ties but today someone has asked him to carry an item involved in narcotics trade (whatever that may be to him) vs. a tv the day before. Note: rough example as many are fully aware of the legal aspects involved in drugs and the higher wage they can gain. But the point is, yes, economics and dark transactions all need to be assessed but not in a vacuum and instead as the whole environmental on-goings if one is to really spot obvious or subtle indicators and anomalies. Good example is Trade Based Money Laundering where one needs to know the baseline of goods and services in a country or local market before one can see if the overs/unders make sense.

Back to systems approach one can also see the Power players of an area to see where real power does indeed rest through catalyst areas of influence and centers of gravity. Profits can also be better understood because through full ecosystem mapping you can break almost all activity down to supply chain processes, which can be augmented, improved, or my favorites--destroyed and disrupted.

Anyway, my 2 cents in an effort to fill a couple holes.

Last edited by S2MSSI; 01-26-2010 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 10-11-2012   #110
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Sorry I couldn't read all of the posts but I have a few questions from what I've read. What resources does Afghanistan have? Do you think US attacked Afghanistan for its resources just like Iraq ? Well we all know Iraq had oil but i didn't know about resources in Afghanistan!
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