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Pakistan to Offer Gas Fields to Foreign Investors

Source: Reuters 3/12/2019, Location: Asia

Pakistan plans to offers dozens of gas field concessions in the coming year to fill in a fuel shortage, a senior official said, with Islamabad hoping a sharp drop in militant violence and changes to exploration policy will attract foreign investors.

Much of the mineral-rich South Asian nation remains unexplored despite gas discoveries dating back to the 1950s. Conventional gas reserves are estimated at 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf), or 560 billion cubic meters, and shale gas reserves, which are untouched, at more than 100 tcf.

Italy’s ENI and U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil are jointly drilling for gas offshore in Pakistan’s Arabian Sea, but many other Western companies have not returned after leaving more than a decade ago because of Islamist militant violence.

Nadeem Babar, head of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Task Force on Energy Reforms, told Reuters the government was amending its natural gas regulation and drawing up its first-ever shale gas policy, with licensing rounds to follow later this year.

The government hopes improving security in recent years and the country’s extensive pipeline network will attract investors.

More than 30 onshore gas blocks have been identified and the government plans to auction a large chunk of them in one or two licensing rounds by the end of 2019, Babar said in his office in the capital Islamabad.

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