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December 12, 2018

Government plans auction of new oil blocks amid high industry interest


December 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The government has planned to offer new onshore oil and gas blocks to potential bidders, a government minister said on Tuesday, hoping more security and facilities for energy firms will help increase foreign firms' interest in the sector.

“Our government will make all-out efforts to increase exploration acreage by introducing more exploration blocks in the country,” Ghulam Sarwar Khan, minister for energy (petroleum division) said.

“We are encouraged to see that companies participated and offered winning bids for the blocks in exploration bid round that took place last month. This shows the trust of investors and their interest in future exploration licencing rounds.”

The government has allotted 10 licences to E&P companies after holding competitive biddings on November 26.

Khan was addressing a one-day annual conference, titled “challenges and strategies to sustain E&P (exploration and production) growth”.

Pakistan Association of Petroleum Geoscientists (PAPG) and Society of Petroleum Engineers jointly held the conference in which 1,500 local and foreign delegates participated.

The petroleum minister said oil and gas exploration activities are underway at 41 percent of the country. “In the next few years, we are also starting offshore activities in the sector.”

The minister said the government is cognizant with the current energy demands of the country and the challenges ahead.

“The government is doing all-out efforts to provide safe environment to the companies, which are involved in oil and gas exploration, services and production,” he added.

Khan said the government is working on war-footing to deal with the energy issues the country is facing.

“Our country needs the sustained growth of indigenous petroleum reserves and indigenous supplies to control the huge import bill,” the minister added.

The minister encouraged stakeholders to continue to discuss the challenges and the means and tools of sustaining exploration and production activities and ensure indigenous supplies of oil and gas.

Secretary Petroleum Mian Asad said the country is bestowed with huge shale gas and conventional oil and gas resources, locked up in areas of difficult access.

“We need high level of commitment, technology and financial resources to find and develop these natural resources,” Asad added. “Only way to make this happen is that all stakeholders including public sector companies, private IOCs (international oil companies), and government’s organisations all work together as a synchronised and efficient team.”

Saeed Khan Jadoon, chairman of the conference said the sustainable E&P growth requires formulation of commonly agreed strategy.

“Oil and gas are major contributors of energy and require aggressive efforts for their search and development,” Jadoon added. “For the last 60 years, efforts have continuously been made to explore conventional oil and gas reservoirs, while unconventional reservoirs are yet to be exploited.”

Nadeem Ahmad, chairman of PAPG said replacing reserves and maintaining oil and gas production remained a serious challenge for domestic oil and gas industry over the last 10 to 15 years.

“Organic growth costs 2-4 times less than buying reserves or importing oil and gas,” Ahmad added.

Another speaker said exploration-based growth does miracles for the countries in saving foreign exchange, supporting businesses, generating economic activities, and it spares funds to spend on unproven high-risk high-reward opportunities in under-explored remote regions.

“Support of state organisations is required to facilitate access to these territories, both operationally and in the form of incentives,” the speaker said. “We need to change our energy mix, need power sector reforms and mass transit systems to reduce huge consumption of oil and gas.”

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