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Cablegate: Afghanistan Energy: Turkmen Power

VZCZCXRO8938
OO RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #2339/01 2020414
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210414Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9215
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0523
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002339

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/A, SCA/FO (A/S BOUCHER, GASTRIGHT, DEUTSCH)
STATE PASS USTDA FOR DSTEIN/SGREENIP
STATE PASS OPIC, USAID
OPIC FOR MOSBACHER/ZAHNISER/STEELE
MANILA PLEASE PASS ADB/USED
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
USAID FOR JKUNDER, MWARD
TREASURY FOR ABAUKOL
OSD FOR SHINN, SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD, JICENT

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG ECON EPET ETRD KPWR EAID PGOV AF
SUBJECT: Afghanistan Energy: TURKMEN POWER

Ref: A) Kabul 1583/1206/1033/936/935/692/317/274
B) Kabul 162 C) 06 Kabul 5353

KABUL 00002339 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: On July 17, citing President Karzai's July 5 and 6
visit to Ashgabat, the Afghan National Security Advisor (NSA)
clarified comments that the Minister for Economics (MOE) had earlier
made to the Ambassador concerning Government of Afghanistan (GoA)
efforts to import electric power from Turkmenistan. The NSA
characterized the Turkmen President as accommodating on this issue,
though price and proposed electric transmission line routing issues
were not discussed at the Presidential level. The Government of
Turkmenistan (GOTX) is interested in a natural gas pipeline to India
(the TAPI project), and in rail connections through Afghanistan to
Tajikistan (and possibly China). This good news from Ashgabat
complements similar good news that, during the Minister of
Economics' early June trip to Tashkent, the Government of Uzbekistan
(GOU) was forthcoming on constructing a transmission line to the
border with Afghanistan. End Summary

2. (SBU) On July 17, the Afghan NSA, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul briefed the
Economic Counselor and AID Mission Energy Office Director on the
broad outlines of the economic aspects of President Karzai's trip.
The atmospherics of Karzai's visit were excellent, and the Afghan
perception is that the GOTX wants good relations with Afghanistan as
a southern neighbor who offers alternative economic and political
links to reliance on Russia, or on neighboring Uzbekistan.

3. (SBU) Dr. Rassoul explained that the GOTX promised to sell
electricity to Afghanistan, and facilitate its export through the
major North Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. However, the price,
and the routing of the electric power transmission lines were not
discussed at the Presidential level. He confirmed press reports
that, as a good-will gesture, the GOTX agreed to provide electricity
worth about $300,000 to Afghan border districts between Andkhvoy
(Faryab Province) and Qarqin (Jowzian Province). (The GOTX already
exports some electricity to Afghanistan at Andkhvoy. The GoA wants
to build a new border crossing at Keleft town in Qarqin district,
Jowzian Province.)

4. (SBU) Dr. Rassoul also explained that the GOTX is considering
expanding its railroad lines through Afghanistan to Tajikistan and
perhaps into China. The GoA understands the GOTX's intent as
by-passing the Uzbeks, who can be difficult. As an initial gesture,
the Turkmen offered to pay the $500,000 price to rebuild five
kilometers of Turkmen railroad from the border crossing town of
Gusgy, Turkmenistan to Towraghondi, Herat Province, Afghanistan.
The Soviets had built this railroad line during the occupation, but
the mujahideen had sold the iron rails for scrap. He noted that, as
a completely separate project, the Kazakhs have talked about
extending the railroad from the Uzbek crossing point of
Termiz/Jeyretan (Hairatan) to the Torkham border crossing point into
Pakistan at the Khyber Pass. These projects, if completed, would
facilitate the GoA goal to make Afghanistan into the transportation
hub of South and Central Asia.

5. (SBU) The NSA confirmed that the Turkmen want to revive the
dormant TAPI (Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India) natural
gas pipeline transmission project as part of a larger effort to
diversify their pipeline export routes. At present, the Turkmen
export gas through Russia and Iran. They want to build three new
export pipelines, including one through Northern Afghanistan to
Tajikistan and China, and the trans-Caspian to Turkey, plus TAPI.
However, the Afghans understand that the TAPI plan has sparked some
opposition because it would diminish the Russian-Iranian duopoly on
exporting Turkmen gas. The Russians are saying that the Turkmen
natural gas reserves to feed the TAPI pipeline are too small, while
the GOTX defends the size of those reserves as adequate.

6. (SBU) In an earlier July 7 conversation with the Ambassador,
Minister of Economics Mohammed Jalil Shams, who is also the chairman
of the Inter-ministerial Council on Energy (ICE), told the
Ambassador and EconCouns that during his own June 10 visit to

KABUL 00002339 002.2 OF 002


Ashgabat, the GOTX rejected the Government of Afghanistan (GoA)
request that the power lines cross the border at the Afghan town of
Keleft in Qarqin district because Turkmen transmission lines would
cross the Amu Darya River twice. The GoA prefers Keleft, which is
closer to Mazar-e-Sharif, while the GOTX prefers a crossing closer
to the Afghan towns of Aqeena and Khamvat. The GOTX-preferred route
involves a longer distance within Afghanistan and is more expensive
for the Afghans. Shams speculated that the GOTX had first rejected
his request in early June to allow it to be more accommodating with
President Karzai in early July.

7. (SBU) Shams added that the GOTX admitted it would need 30 months,
instead of 18 months, to construct a new electric power plant to
supply 300 Megawatts of power to the Afghans. (The GoA had
previously understood that the Turkmen had 1,000 MW of surplus power
available for export.) When the Ambassador asked why a USAID
consultant was not included on Shams' delegation as an expert who
might have facilitated a more detailed discussion of electricity
pricing, Shams speculated that senior officials within the MEW
objected to him.

8. (SBU) Shams reported that the GOU was surprisingly forthcoming
during his visit to Tashkent, saying it would finance both the
rehabilitation of a substation on the border, and the construction
of a new electric power transmission line, which is scheduled to be
finished by end 2008. (FYI: Recently, the Koreans offered to help
construct the Uzbek portion of the transmission line to the Afghan
border, and the Embassy is contacting the Korean Embassy here for
details.)

9. (SBU) On energy aid from Japan, Shams said that the Japanese
have asked ICE to prioritize between two proposed projects -
rehabilitating the electric distribution system in Kabul, and
closing gaps in the Northeast Power System (NEPS). The Japanese
Embassy has pointed out that the Japan International Cooperation
Agency (JICA) just completed in March 2007 a study of the Kabul
distribution system, and that, if ICE put this project as its first
priority, implementation could go ahead faster than the "NEPS gaps"
project.

WOOD

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