Key Pipelines Must Wait For Peace...But Opium Just Keeps On FlowingSudarsan Raghavan
Two brand-new oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan's war zones? Don't laugh. They could be the nation's best hope for peace and prosperity. The proposed $8 billion project, a joint venture between U.S. petroleum giant Unocal Corp. and Saudi Arabia's Delta Oil, would stretch from the rich oil and natural-gas fields of Turkmenistan, across areas controlled by the Taliban--the fundamentalist militia that seized Kabul in September--and on to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. The pipelines could yield tens of millions of dollars in fees and taxes for the warring factions--if they put down their arms, that is. "We're offering them an alternative to war," says Keith Lindsell, Unocal's exploration chief in Islamabad.
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