Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Wednesday said the petroleum sector during last five years had witnessed an exceptional growth as the government introduced solid measures to bridge demand and supply gap.
Addressing a press conference here to highlight major milestones achieved by the government in petroleum sector during its five-year tenure, he said enhancing local gas production, import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) at lowest rates and the cross-country pipelines from Iran and Turkmenistan were among the steps taken to meet the energy needs.
The prime minister, who also holds the charge of Ministry of Petroleum, said the country’s total energy consumption stood at 80 million tons of oil equivalent in 2017 which was a 23 percent increase since 2013.
He mentioned that the domestic gas sector experienced a nominal increase in rates from Rs106 to Rs110 in years 2013 and 2018, respectively.
He said the agreement reached with consensus by Council of Common Interests paved way for issuing of 46 new licenses and 51 new leases, while 73 facilities were converted to new policies.
He said 116 new discoveries were made which increased 35,000 barrel oil, adding that the biggest long-term achievement in the country’s history was production of an additional quantity of gas which was used during last five years.
The prime minister said drilling of 445 new wells was a record, of which 221 were of exploratory nature and added that earlier no such discoveries were made in last 30 years.
He regretted that in past, the follow-up processing of explored gas was ignored and instead ‘wet’ gas was added to the mainstream, which put a negative effect to the system.
He said in lieu of Gas Development Surcharge, the federal government gave Rs30 billion to provinces in 2013 and Rs73 billion in 2017.
He said with an expense of Rs200 billion, a 1700-kilometre-long transmission line was made operational, while work on North-South Line with Russia and another with China was in progress. In addition, a 25,000-km distribution line was also being laid.
The prime minister said the number of gas connections had swelled from five to seven million and assured that not a single connection out of two million was given out-of-turn.
He said the government had overcome the severe gas shortage experienced during last few years and now the commodity was available to all domestic and industrial sectors.
He said with cheaper rates, import of LNG was a success story which was acknowledged by the world and mentioned that temporary third-party access rules were also made. He said 176 vessels carrying fuel had reached Pakistan in short period, which was a record.
To a question, he dismissed the criticism on LNG project and said the details of agreement with Qatar were available at website of Pakistan State Oil, which was the cheapest contract.
Khaqan Abbasi said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in contrast with the previous governments annulled the quota distribution of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).
He said the previous quota was a big scandal with minting of Rs13,000 on every 1,600 tonne of LPG daily.
He said instead, the government set up Air Mix Plants at every district headquarter of Balochistan and in areas of Chitral, Gilgit, Skardu and Swat.
He said the government also regulated the price of LPG cylinder from Rs2,500 to Rs1,200.
The prime minister said the government introduced import of Euro 2 petrol of international standard having 92 RON as compared to the previous poor quality product having sulfur elements. He said fuel marker was also being introduced to keep a vigil on supply of high quality petrol.
He said the petrol transmission pipeline from Karachi to Multan to be completed by 2019 would replace the existing fragile supply chain of fuel through trucks and tankers.
He said Pakistan had become the second largest user of furnace oil in the world, however the government ceased its import in view of the world standards of environmental friendly fuel.
Abbasi said in addition to the county’s old hydro skimming refineries, work was in progress on a deep conversion refinery being set up by joint collaboration of PARCO, United Arab Emirates and Austria. He said the five billion dollar refinery would become the country’s biggest industrial project.
He said also a 0.3 million barrel refinery would be set up between Karachi and Lahore with an expense of six to seven billion dollars, adding that these new refineries would ensure energy security.
To a question, the prime minister agreed that the phenomenon of gas theft was a reality and unfortunately was being carried out under supervision of administration and police. He said Karak in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa was a clear example in this regard.
When asked about disproportionate financial assets of his party leader Nawaz Sharif, Abbasi said the assets of Sharif family were rooted in pre-partition era and stressed that no scandal of monetary corruption surfaced during last five years.
He said the PML-N would go to in the upcoming general election with renewed determination and on the basis of its performance.
He emphasized that the election were required to be held on time within 60 days and added that even a delay of single day would invoked the need for Article 6 of the Constitution (high treason).a