Taliban returns Iranian oil products, instead doubles purchase of gas from Russia

The supply of Russian liquefied gas to Afghanistan by rail has doubled from January to November 2023, a recent report by Reuters indicates.

Taliban's acting commerce minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi speaks during an interview with Reuters, in Islamabad, Pakistan November 16, 2023. REUTERS/Salahuddin NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday, December 13 that in 2023, the Taliban have doubled the purchase of oil products and especially liquid gas from Russia.

Meanwhile, Russia has refused to export oil products to Europe amid the war with Ukraine, and has directed more focus to Central Asia.

This report which is published by the Independent, claims that the supply of Russian LPG or liquefied gas to Afghanistan by rail reached more than 176,000 tonnes from January to November 2023. It is double the amount of gas imports from Russia to Afghanistan compared to 2022.

While Russia still does not recognize the Taliban government, since the group rose to power in Afghanistan, it has shaped close relations with this government and made significant trade and transit deals. In the last two years, Russia and China, have both made great efforts to reinforce and amplify economic prsence in Afghanistan.

Last year, Russia presented the Taliban government with a discount offer, which resulted in an agreement to supply gasoline, diesel, gas, and wheat to Afghanistan. This was the first major international economic deal offered to the Taliban since holding a grip on power.

After that, the Taliban signed a 25-year contract with China for oil drilling and development of oil fields in the Amu Darya region.

Recently, the Taliban returned 74 fuel trucks imported from Iran from Mil port due to alleged low quality. According to Iran International reports, about 80% of Iran’s gasoline production does not meet Euro 4 and Euro 5 standards.

Ahmad Maroufkhani, the head of Iran’s petroleum products exporters’ union, argued in response to the return of Iran’s exported gasoline shipments from Afghanistan that there is no mechanism and criteria for measuring the quality of petroleum products and gasoline at the border of Afghanistan.

It seems that the Taliban’s interest in consolidating relations with Russia, as well as the relatively lower sales price stipulated in Russia’s contract with the Taliban, have caused the Taliban to lose interest in imported oil products from Iran.

On the other hand, Russia, which in the last two years, and following the war in Ukraine, has reduced the shipment of liquefied gas to Europe, is interested in selling as many products as possible in Afghanistan and the surrounding countries.

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