Last summer, a small international prospector operating in the poorest of former Soviet republics released some sensational news: Tajikistan, it announced, is sitting on enough oil and gas to make everyone rich.
Though the evidence is scant and the company, Cayman Islands-registered Tethys Petroleum, remains tight-lipped, the buzz has not subsided. Yet some observers are beginning to question the hype from Tethys, as well as other companies. “All this speculation about Tajikistan magically turning into the next Kuwait overnight is nothing but fairytales,” says Tajik geologist Georgiy Koshlakov, a member of the Moscow-based International Engineering Academy and a former vice premier of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic.
Georgiy Sergeev, a former advisor at the State Geological Agency who retired recently, is another skeptic. “Tajik and foreign media replicate illiterate allegations and statements rich in mistakes and absurd figures,” he says.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan. Joshua Kucera contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.