El Segundo, Calif., Sept. 14, 2001 -- Unocal Corporation is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan.
Beginning in late 1997, Unocal was a member of a multinational consortium that was evaluating construction of a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan. Part of this pipeline would have crossed western Afghanistan. However, Unocal suspended its participation in the CentGas consortium in August 1998 and formally withdrew from that consortium in December 1998. Our company has had no further role in developing or funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban. The pipeline was never constructed.
During this time, Afghanistan was in the midst of a civil war. We met with many factions, including the Taliban, to educate them about the benefits such a pipeline could bring to this desperately poor and war-torn country, as well as to the Central Asian region. At no time did we make any deal with the Taliban, and, in fact, consistently emphasized that the project could not and would not proceed until there was an internationally recognized government in place in Afghanistan that fairly represented all its people. Our hope was that the project could help bring peace, stability and economic development to the Afghans, as well as develop important energy resources for the region.
Unocal suspended participation in the pipeline consortium in August 1998 (see statement). Unocal officially withdrew from the consortium (in accordance with the consortium contracts) in December 1998 (see news release). After several incorrect reports appeared, including one published in Pakistan in February 1999, Unocal reconfirmed its position regarding this matter in another statement dated February 1999 (see news release).