PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday summoned the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited’s managing director to inform it about the latest situation on oil and gas exploration in the province.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar took exception to the failure of the OGDCL to send in a representative and directed its MD to appear before it on Sept 22 (Thursday).

It adjourned the hearing into a petition filed by several Karak residents seeking multiple relief from the court amid allegation of the theft of crude oil by an international oil and gas exploration company.

The bench also directed the MOL Pakistan Oil and Gas Company to produce a report about development work undertaken by it as its corporate social responsibility for the uplift of the area, where has long been exploring oil.

Seeks details of uplift work carried out in Karak district

During the last hearing in May this year, the high court had sought a detailed report from the OGDCL about the latest situation of exploration of oil and gas in the province since the discovery of Gurguri gas field in Karak district years ago.

The petitioners, including Mujahid Islam and 49 other residents of Banda Daud Shah tehsil, requested the court to declare that the people of Karak, Kohat and Hangu, whose properties and lands suffered damage and who faced health hazards and environmental degradation due to oil exploration, are entitled to compensation by the provincial and federal governments.

They also prayed the court to pronounce that the Federal Investigation Agency, law-enforcement agencies, federal and provincial revenue authorities, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), OGDCL

and federal and provincial anti-corruption bodies are involved in the oil and gas theft and other issues as they safeguard the interest of the said exploration company.

The petitioners were represented by lawyer Mohammad Moazzam Butt, whereas additional attorney general Aamir Javed and assistant attorney general Ashfaq Daudzai appeared for federal government, assistant advocate general Saqib Raza for the provincial government and Barrister Rokhan Nafees represented the MOL Pakistan Oil and Gas Company.

During course of proceeding the chief justice observed that it was unfortunate that the natural resources available in this country had not been utilised properly for the last 75 years.

It was observed they won’t have been begging for provision of oil and gas to other countries if they had adopted proper policies for exploration of these resources for the benefit of public.

The bench asked additional attorney general Aamir Javed that the court had sought details from the OGDCL of the steps taken for exploration of oil and gas and whether all contracts would be given to foreign companies and the country would remain dependent on them.

The AAG said the province including the merged tribal districts had been divided into different blocks.

He said Wana area in South Waziristan had also been divided into a block, which would be auctioned for exploration as it was expected that huge deposits of oil and gas were available there.

The AAG said he would receive report from the OGDCL about it and submit it to the court.

The court took exception to the absence of the OGDCL’s representatives and ordered its managing director to appear before it on the next hearing.

While the company denied the claims made by the petitioners during the last hearing, Barrister Rokhan had informed the court that the MOL Company had provided royalty to the government to the tune of Rs2.6 billion during the last five years.

He added that the facilities provided to the local population as the company’s CSR had grown over the years.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022

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