That article isn't meaningful without the background.
After the fall of the Soviet Union the first company to invest in Turkmenistan was the Argentinian company Bridas. Then in July 1995 they discovered a huge gas reserve at the Yashlar field with estimated reserves of 27 tcf - which is more than double Pakistan's total gas reserves. Pakistan has an energy crisis of course. Turkmenistan then reneged on their contracts with Bridas and began dealings with Unocal.
Unocal created a consortium and proposed a pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan. US state department's goal was to open up the new CARs to western markets, draw them away from Russia and Iran and help contribute to stability in the region. This was discussed at meetings between Unocal executives, CIA and state department in 1995.
Bridas CEO Bulgheroni met with Ismael Khan in Herat, President Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Mahsud in Kabul, Abdul Rashid Dostum in Mazar-e-sharif and the Taliban in Khandahar.
Bridas's consortium included a 10% holding by the Russian state and a 15% holding by Saudi company Ningarcho - Ningarcho was Prince Turki's company - Prince Turki heads the most powerful Saudi intelligence apparatus that aided the Taliban.
"Unocal was at a disadvantage because its policy towards the Taliban did not deviate from the US line and consequently Unocal lectured the Taliban on what they should be doing. Bridas had no such compunctions and was ready to sign a deal with the Taliban" - Taliban by Ahmad Rashid
"Washington's top priority was conflict resolution" - Strobe Talbott
March 1996 US Ambassador to Pakistan Tom Simmons attempts to persuade Benazir Bhutto to forego Bridas and work with Unocal. She flies into a rage, accuses him of extortion and demands an apology in writing which she receives.
Taliban captures Kabul in September 1996. Unocal still "would not construct the pipeline or discuss commercial terms with the Taliban" as per US state department policy.
Unocal met with Taliban leaders but as Ahmed Rashid explains: "Taliban leaders said that they preferred Bridas, because Bridas made no demands upon them while Unocal was urging them to improve their human rights image and to open talks with the anti-Taliban alliance - the main plank of US foreign policy."