Security clearance for Khuzdar oil exploration to be settled: NA body

Updated October 19, 2019

Email

BNP Chief Akhtar Mengal asked senior OGDCL officials attending the meeting of the committee to explain reasons for the delay in the exploration of oil and gas in Khuzdar.  — Reuters/File
BNP Chief Akhtar Mengal asked senior OGDCL officials attending the meeting of the committee to explain reasons for the delay in the exploration of oil and gas in Khuzdar. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Energy on Friday decided to summon officials of the departments concerned to settle the issue of security clearance and remove restrictions on oil and gas exploration in Khuzdar.

Dr Imran Khattak, chairman of the committee, observed that the parliamentary panel should play a major role in oil and gas development in the country, especially in Balochistan.

The matter was taken up for discussion by Sardar Akhtar Mengal, chairman of the Balochistan National Party, who criticised the authorities concerned for not giving security clearance to oil and gas exploration in Khuzdar.

Mr Mengal asked senior OGDCL officials attending the meeting of the committee to explain reasons for the delay in the exploration of oil and gas in Khuzdar.

“There was a meeting in 2014 and some work was started by the OGDCL, but everything is standstill now,” Mr Mengal said.

Akhtar Mengal regrets that work has been lingering since 2014

In reply, Dr Saeed Jadoon, the executive director of exploration of OGDCL, said the meeting was held by senior OGDCL officials and it was presided over by Mr Mengal himself at that time.

“We had marked the well and completed our initial works, but there has to be a security clearance from the Frontier Corps as it was responsible for maintaining law and order in most areas of Balochistan and an NOC is also required from the provincial government,” Dr Jadoon said.

“The other two stakeholders are locals who are cooperating and we, the company, are ready to start road construction in a week after the security clearance is received,” he said.

Mr Mengal informed the committee that a settlement was reached with the OGDCL and a similar agreement was reached in Jhal Magsi, too, with the OGDCL, where it was agreed that locals would provide security to the workers of the company.

The committee decided to summon officials of the departments concerned to settle the security clearance matter.

PTI MNA Shahid Ahmed Khan bitterly criticised the KP government in the meeting and said that the provincial government was not giving due share of royalty to districts which were producing oil and gas.

“We are facing environmental pollution and problems related to depleting water resources, but the provincial government is spending royalty money on other areas,” Mr Khan said.

The committee also discussed non-payment of electricity bills in Balochistan.

Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan said that alternative and renewable sources of energy were the way forward for the country.

“The project for solar-based tube-wells in Balochistan was under way and many issues will be resolved and we expect that payment of electricity charges will also improve,” the minister said.

He reiterated that the issue of digging of new gas and oil wells in Balochistan would be resolved amicably. He said that local production of gas had gone down in the country and import of LNG would help reduce the gap.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019