ISLAMABAD: Amid lukewarm response, the government on Friday declared as successful six parties/joint ventures for the award of as many exploration blocks as four other blocks did not attract any bids despite an extension in the deadline.

The Petroleum Division on Friday announced that a bid committee led by Director General Petroleum Concessions (DGPC) opened bids for onshore blocks for the grant of petroleum exploration rights. “Bids were received for six blocks”, said the Petroleum Division.

United Energy Pakistan — a subsidiary of the United Energy Group listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange — stood out as the highest bidder for two blocks (100pc) while all four other blocks were secured by local and mostly state-run exploration and production companies. This included a joint venture of operator Pakistan Oilfields Ltd (40pc) with partners Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL) and Oil & Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) having 30pc shares each.

Two other blocks were secured by OGDCL with 100pc shareholding while another block was jointly acquired by operator PPL with 70pc shareholding with the remaining 30pc stakes from OGDCL.

Four others couldn’t get a single bid despite extension of deadline

The total minimum investment committed by these parties to carry out exploration activities in these prospective blocks amounted to $23.25 million in three years.

Apart from E&P activities, the successful companies will also be required to spend over $540,000 in social welfare for the areas of their respective blocks. In addition in case of successful hydrocarbon finds, the E&P firms would be making investments of several hundred million dollars to develop the well for commercial production.

The government had invited local and international E&P companies on Aug 10 this year to bid for a total of 10 prospective exploration blocks in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan latest by Nov 15. Given limited feedback, the date was extended for another fortnight to Nov 30 to facilitate move bids.

However, four blocks still could not attract any bids as most of the foreign firms have left the country one after the other because of various factors including macroeconomic and security conditions. In June this year too, the government offered 18 blocks for bidding but had received offers for only three blocks.

The blocks offered for bidding include six in Sindh, three in Balochistan and one in Punjab. The six blocks in Sindh included Murradi (2767-7), Malir-II (2467-18), Sawan South (2668-26), Mithiani (2667-17), Gambat -II (2668-25) and Zamzama West (2667-18 ).

The three blocks in Balochistan included Saruna West (2666-1), Kalata North (2966-4) and Kotra East (2867-8) while one block in Punjab was Rachna-II (3071-6). The exploration blocks that did not receive any offers were one in Punjab (Rachna-II), two in Sindh (Malir-II and Zamzama West) and Kalata North in Balochistan.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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