US to spend $297m on Afghan energy projects
KABUL (PAN): The United States would invest $297 million in Afghanistan to establish coal energy producing plants and iron-sulphur separation laboratories, besides developing a gas field, the mines minister said on Monday.
Wahidullah Shahrani told a news conference in Kabul that the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and its agency for international development (USAID) would jointly spend $37 million on reconstructing two gas wells and drilling another two in northern Jawzjan province.
The OPIC would also establish an iron-sulphur separation laboratory in Shiberghan, the provincial capital, at a cost of $60 million to be provided by USAID, he said.
Another $200 million would be spent on establishing coal energy plants having the capacity of producing 200 megawatts of electricity, Shahrani said without going into details.
The Ministry of Mines spokesman Jawad Omar said extraction of gas from wells was producing dangerous sulphur gases that contaminated environment.
He said the proposed laboratory would separate suphur from gas during its extraction process. The facility is expected to be completed in April, 2015, he said.
Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R Nides said the proposed coal energy producing plants would be the biggest project of its kind in Afghanistan’s history.
He said the project was of great importance for Afghanistan’s economic development and it would have positive impact on the country’s energy needs.
He said the project would ensure power supply to one million people and job opportunities to hundreds.
Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal called the project a giant leap towards achieving economic stability and a huge investment in Afghanistan.
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