Afghanistan has set up a battle of global and regional bulls in the latest contest for its potential oil and gas riches. The country's Ministry of Mines has announced eight finalists to bid for an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent in northern Afghanistan. ExxonMobil has been pitted against companies from bitter regional rivals Pakistan and India -- Pakistan Petroleum and India's ONGC. Turkey's TPAO is also a powerful regional contestant. No finalists from China or Russia were on the list. But on Twitter, journalist Kabir Taneja suggested that Pakistan Petroleum has Chinese backing.
Other finalists are Dubai-based Dragon Oil, Kuwait Energy, Petra Energia of Brazil and Thailand's PTT. Bids are to be submitted in October, and a winner chosen by the beginning of next year. An initial tender for Afghan oil last year generated criticism after it was won by the China National Petroleum Corp., because China has been the victor of other resource contests in the country. CNPC's apparent decision to sit out the latest tender could be a tactical decision with a long-term view of future Afghan tenders.