The government will set up a multi-billion dollar refinery to meet Pakistan's energy needs, Minister of State Musadik Malik said Friday.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the project — which has been in the works for some time — during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE), he said. The new refinery would cost between Rs10-14 billion.
"Energy is necessary for economic progress," Malik said during a press conference in Islamabad. "Pakistan will be on the road to progress soon."
Referring to PM Shehbaz's announcement a day earlier that Pakistan would soon receive the first cargo of cheap oil from Russia, Malik said it was the incumbent government that had managed to secure a deal with Moscow compared to the previous one's "noisy propaganda".
The minister said the government also decided to stop giving gas to power plants and would instead provide 50 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) of gas to poor households. "We will take back cheap gas from the rich and provide it to the poor."
"Gas has been taken back from those who used it to sell expensive electricity. The monopoly of some people has been abolished," he said without elaborating on which entities he was talking about.
Malik noted the government had formed a policy to provide cheaper energy by utilising liquified natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and solar. The country would have to use these resources responsibly, he added.
The decision was made to facilitate the people, the minister said.
Malik had told Reuters last week that the government had made its first purchase of Russian crude oil, and cargo would dock at Karachi port in May.
The minister said the country would seek to import 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Russian crude oil if the first transaction went smoothly.
Initially, the Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) would refine the crude oil in a trial run, to be followed later by Pak-Arab Refinery Limited (PARCO) and other refineries.