PESHAWAR: The geological seismic surveys have revealed that around 20 trillion cubic feet natural gas can be explored in different blocks in the militancy-affected Federally Administered Tribal Areas, says a senior official.

“The geological seismic surveys have been completed in few areas of tribal belt and approximately 20 trillion cubic feet gas can be acquired from different zones,” Fata Oil and Gas Facilitation Unit director Azhar Mahboob told Dawn after a workshop here on Wednesday.

The unit has been set up in the Fata Development Authority.

The director said the petroleum ministry had issued licences to different companies for oil and gas exploration in 15 blocks in Fata.

He said the survey for the exploration of oil and gas had been finished in the Frontier Region Bannu bordering North Waziristan Agency.

Official says 20 trillion cubic feet gas can be explored in different blocks of tribal region

Mr. Mahboob said surveys in some soft areas like FR Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan and lower parts of Orakzai Agency were in progress, while gravity survey for oil and gas in North Waziristan Agency had been initiated.

He said the MOL Pakistan had been given the licence for survey in North Waziristan Agency.

“Oil and gas sector is considered a game changer for tribal region,” he said, adding that drilling in those blocks would begin after the completion of the surveys.

The director said investors had been told to begin activities within six months and if that didn’t happen, the federal ministry would be asked to cancel their licences.

The Cell for Fata Studies of the University of Peshawar organised the workshop about the ‘economic currents and opportunities for economic development in tribal areas’. Geologists and students attended the workshop.

Mr. Mahboob said Rs4.5 billion investment had been attracted during the last nine to ten months.

He said the idea had been floated to establish oil and gas company for Fata.

Besides, the governor had also approved a summary to ask the federal government for the inclusion of Fata in all petroleum policies and rules, he added.

Fata minerals manager Hamayun Khan told the workshop that military’s giant Frontier Works Organisation had been given the contract to process copper mines in North Waziristan Agency.

He said under the agreement, 50 per cent of the revenue generated in that way would go to the FWO, 18 per cent to local tribes, 10 per cent to the FDA and 22 per cent to local corporate social responsibility to be spent in social sector.

Mr. Hamayun said the FWO had sublet the contract to its subsidiary, DEW, for the exploration of copper mines in Mohammadkhel of North Waziristan.

He said the estimated deposits of copper in the area were 35 million tons of which eight million tons had been proven.

The manager said exploration of minerals and survey for discovery of oil and gas had been started after restoration of law and order situation in Fata.

He said the tribal areas had rich portfolio of minerals and that the total deposits of fine quality marble were seven billion tons in Bajaur and other parts of Fata.

Mr. Hamayun said two million tons of marble were exported from Fata annually. He said the government would ban the unconventional methods of marble exploration in Fata.

Professor Saddique Akbar of the University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar expressed concern about the use of unconventional techniques in the mining sector of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said 70-80 per cent of marble was destroyed due to indiscriminate use of explosives in marble and chromites mines.

“The mineral sector contributes only one per cent to the Gross Domestic Product. It can be increased to 20 per cent through proper exploitation of the mineral sector,” he said.

Professor Saddique said there was a shortage of skilled workers in the mining sector. He said the government should act as a facilitator to enable local investors to produce products of international standards.

Dr Altafullah Khan, head of the department of journalism and mass communication at the University of Peshawar, and Dr Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, head of the Fata Cell, also addressed the workshop.

Certificates were later distributed to participants.

Published in Dawn December 22nd, 2016


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