Pakistan to Offer 32 Blocks for Oil, Gas Exploration Soon

Pakistan's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources plans to offer 32 exploration blocks to oil and gas companies operating in the country, according to a report Monday by local media Pakistan Today (PT).

"Under the petroleum policy 2012, 46 new blocks have already been awarded while the clearance process has been initiated for award of 32 more exploration blocks to E&P (exploration and production) companies through bidding process," official sources said, as quoted by PT.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is understood to have awarded 70 Supplemental Agreements (SAs) for conversion to Petroleum Concessions Agreements (PCAs), a move that seeks to speed up local exploration activities.

"As many as 70 SAs covering 94 leases have been executed while remaining applications are also being reviewed and finalized on a fast track basis,” the sources said.

They added that the agreements had been finalized in consultation with all stakeholders, including those in the petroleum industry as well as the Ministries of Finance and Law and Justice.

The Pakistani Government attached high priority to the petroleum gas sector as oil and gas provide over 80 percent of the South Asian country's energy mix. According to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the government has provided incentives to oil and gas companies to increase exploration activities in the country, with the latest introduced in 2012.

In a related development, the authorities would revoke licenses awarded to oil and gas companies that failed to commence exploration activity as scheduled. So far, 16 exploration permits have been revoked after the government stepped up actions against non-performing E&P companies. Such firms are given ample notification by the authorities and provided with an opportunity to present their cases in a transparent manner before a decision is made to revoke their licences.

Last Wednesday, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Pakistan's National Assembly that the country's oil and gas sector has received investment of around $15.3 billion (PKR 1.6 trillion) although the time frame for this was not given. He also revealed that Pakistan has made 82 oil and gas discoveries during the last 3 fiscal years.

"Production from 45 out of the 82 discoveries has already begun, whereas necessary work on 37 discoveries is being carried out by the Exploration and Production companies in order to start production," Abbasi said, as quoted Thursday in PT.

Chee Yew has covered the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry in Asia for more than 15 years. Email Chee Yew at cheeyew.cheang@rigzone.com

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