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KARACHI: Following a lacklustre period of several years, when things remained quite on the oil and gas exploration sector, in the face of heightened security situation and circular debt issues, the oil and gas fields have started to buzz with activity.

In the current financial year-to-date (July 1, 2012 to March 11, 2013) the country’s oil and gas sector has spudded as many as 56 wells. It represents a big leap over the 31 wells drilled in the same period last year. The sector has drilled 20 new exploratory wells as against 12 wells same time last year, depicting a significant increase of 67 per cent.

On the discovery side, the picture was a lot brighter than the earlier years as a total of 10 discoveries have been made by the sector in FY13 so far.

The sector’s drilling of a total of 56 exploratory and development (E&D) wells during the period also represents achieving 61 per cent of the full year target set at 91 wells. Even in that sphere, the sector fared better than the comparable period last year when only 41 per cent of the target 76 wells could be drilled.

“O&G sector’s focus continues to remain on the development wells”, says Nauman Khan, analyst at Topline Securities. Of the total wells drilled, 36 were development wells (representing 64 per cent of total activity). It reflected improvement over 19 wells or 61pc of total wells drilled in the comparable period last year.

Apart from the development wells, the activity on the exploration side also represented encouraging growth. Although, contribution of the exploratory wells had slightly declined to 36pc as against 39pc in the same period last year, the overall trend was heartwarming.

The sector spudded 20 exploratory wells, which was significantly more than 12 wells drilled in the comparable period last year while it represented 45pc of full year target of 44 wells.

Analyst said that amongst the listed companies, Pakistan’s largest oil and gas explorer, the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) had drilled 13 wells which were 63 per cent higher than eight wells drilled last year. Included in those 13 wells, were two exploratory wells and 11 development wells.

Pakistan Petroleum Limited drilled five wells (one exploratory and four development), up from two development wells in the comparable period last year. However, with full year target of 16 wells (six exploratory and 10 development), sector watchers expect the drilling activity of the company to significantly intensify in the remaining of the year.

The third major oil and gas E&P company, the Pakistan Oilfields Limited drilled only one exploratory. In the comparable period last year, POL had drilled two exploratory wells.

Though much of the success eluded the E&P companies on the listed sector, the revival and discovery would benefit the country. The darkest hour for the sector came possibly in late 2010 and early 2011, when exploration and development work had started to limp.

According to the data compiled by Pakistan Petroleum Information Services (PPIS), 28 E&P companies in the country, that hold operator licences, together had drilled only 19 wells in first half of the year 2011, compared to 80 wells targeted for all of the FY11.Besides the poor security situation, the two major reasons for the underperformance of E&P companies were the nagging circular debt, which had affected the drillers’ liquidity thereby restricting their drilling portfolio and secondly, the continuation of the carry over wells of the earlier year that stalled companies from launching into new wells, keeping them focused on already drilled ground.


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