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July 3, 2019

US-Iran tension: Pakistan can face energy security issues


July 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s energy security could come at stake if the Strait of Hormuz gets blocked due to the US-Iran tension, especially hitting the LNG import, a senior official of the petroleum division told the National Assembly’s standing committee on Energy here Tuesday.

The government is working on increasing the local production of gas and oil and for this purpose, we would hold bidding for 20 new blocks for oil and gas exploration by December 2019, Secretary Petroleum Division Asad Hayaud Din said. Besides, to encourage companies for exploration of oil and gas in hard areas of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the government would give them high rates for exploration and development. “We have sent a summary to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for this purpose,” he said. Secretary said that during last decade, the oil and gas exploration was too much slow. “We have asked the SSGCL and SNGPL to control the gas theft”, he said.

A senior official of the ministry said that financial health of these struggling companies (SSGCL and SNGPL) has started improving, after they have started controlling the theft and leakages from their systems. He however said that yet, these companies have to do more to control their unaccounted for gas (UFGs). He apprised the committee which met here with MNA Dr Imran Khattak in the chair that the gas reserves are depleting.

The government is to inaugurate TAPI Gas Pipeline in October, 2019, and after its completion, the situation of gas shortage will be improved considerably.

The committee was also told that Kekra-I offshore drilling, the cost incurred was $150 million.

The initial estimates was $75 million which was later upward revised to $100 million, but now the committee was told that not $100 million, but $150 million were spent on this exercise.

Iran has issued Pakistan a notice for not completing Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Islamabad is of the view that the completion of the pipeline is not possible for us, and we are preparing reply on it.

MNA Asad Umar, who is not member of the committee also attended the meeting, said there is potential of gas in the country and exploration of gas wells should not be slowed down.

Secretary petroleum said that there is Block-28 in Balochistan with the estimated reserves of 21 trillion cubic feet (TCF) but it is too early to say anything in this regard.

Riaz Hussain Pirzada said that Akbar Bugti was killed for demanding gas for Sui. “Lest I am also killed by Sipah e Sahaba or put behind me the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF),” he added.

Shazia Mari said that despite gas producing district, Sanghar has not received gas during past five years. Article 158 of the Constitution provides for the distribution of gas, she added.

Noor Alam said that the government should not violate Constitution in the provision of gas.

Akhter Mengal said despite gas exploration from Sui still all of the localities in the areas are not getting gas. Because of the Sui the name of the gas was kept Sui. He demanded that the committee should be briefed that where the gas from Sui and Pirco is being supplied. He further said that for the exploration work Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) is mercilessly cutting trees.

Asad Umar said that by not providing gas to the gas producing districts the government is clearly violating Article 158 of the constitution. He said this while commenting on the issue of not provision of gas to Sui and other gas producing districts. He said that the gas shortage will continue in the next winter. There are technical hindrances in the provision of gas during winter, he added.

Sardar Talib Nakkai said that the government is using delaying tactics in the execution of the parliamentarians’ gas schemes. Chaudhry Barjees Tahir questioned that why the gas supply schemes started by the previous government were abandoned by the incumbent government.

The ministry was asked to address concerns of members regarding development schemes of gas and electricity on priority.

The committee asked SNGPL and IESCO to strictly comply with the directions of their regulatory authorities by giving new connections to the residents of Islamabad. The committee also asked Chairman CDA to make regulations regarding different zones of Islamabad and to facilitate the people for getting new connections.