The mission involved building and operating Afghanistan’s first compressed natural gas filling station in the city of Sheberghan and helping develop the commercial market for domestic natural gas.
The problem was, according to SIGAR, is that there was “no indication” the Task Force studied the viability of the project — or considered the significant obstacles it faced — before construction began.
A feasibility study “might have noted” that Afghanistan lacks the distribution infrastructure to make such a market viable — and that converting cars from gasoline to CNG would be cost-prohibitive for most Afghans, SIGAR said.
Despite all of that, a contract for just under $3 million was awarded to a company called Central Asian Engineering in 2011. According to SIGAR, an economic impact assessment found the task force spent well beyond that —$42,718,730 — between 2011 and 2014 to fund the station’s construction and supervise its initial operation.
A CNG filling station “would have cost no more than $500,000 in neighboring Pakistan,” the report noted, calculating the “exorbitant cost to U.S. taxpayers” at 140 times higher than it should have been.