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The country is structurally complicated, consisting of a succession of narrow northeast-trending terrains of continental fragments of Palaeozoic to Tertiary age. There are 4 areas where thick sediments are present.

In the north are the Amu Dar’ya and Afghan-Tajik Basins (part of the same geological terrain), in the southwest is the Helmand Basin, in the southeast is the Katawaz area, and in the west is the Heart Basin.

Oil and gas potential has only been recognised in the Amu Dar’ya and Afghan-Tajik basins which also produce gas, condensate and oil in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan  and Uzbekistan.


Exploration commenced in Afghanistan in 1956. The first oil field (Angoat) was discovered in 1959 in the Afghan-Tajik Basin. Following on from this, the Yatim Taq gas field was drilled in 1960,  the Khwaja Gogerdaq gas field in 1961, and the Khwaja Bulan gas field in 1964 all in the Amu Dar’ya Basin.

Angoat came onstream in 1975 but the most significant production has been of gas with some condensate, both beginning in 1967 from the Khwaja Gogerdag field.

Most exploration activity has been concentrated in the Amu Dar’ya basin, however it remains unexplored compared to neighbouring countries. Output of gas peaked in 1980 and fell dramatically following departure of the Soviets in 1989. All gas exports to Turkmenistan ceased in 1992.

From 1992 to the 2000s very little drilling occurred in the unstable country but some minor activity returned from 2001. A Licensing Round was launched in 2009 and 3 blocks were eventually awarded after the Amu Dar’ya 2011 and the Afghan-Tajik 2012 tenders had been launched.

This led to development of the Faryab/Sar-i-Pul oil field by CNPC in the Afghan-Tajik Basin which had been discovered in 1960. It came onstream in 2013.

The production potential for Afghanistan is uncertain as future output largely depends on how the political situation resolves itself over the next few years. Currently the country remains unstable although the northern part, where most oil and gas potential is located, is more secure.

It is unlikely that Western European or American companies will invest but CNPC has had some success and Globalshift forecasts modest growth in oil and gas production over coming years. Exports of gas may begin to China in the mid 2020s.

For recent events see News

Oil and gas forecasts

See Afghanistan Charts

Central Asia


AFGHANISTAN: SEDIMENTARY BASINS (source: Gustavson Associates)

E and P


Afghanistan Datafiles

Excel files - histories and forecasts of production and wells in any category for all countries and regions

Afghanistan Charts