ISLAMABAD: Mari Petroleum Company Ltd (MPCL) on Friday announced a gas discovery in a very prospective, highly security sensitive and unexplored region of Kohlu District in Balochistan.

“The discovery is of significant importance for future exploration as it has revealed valuable information about the existing petroleum system of the area,” said MPCL, the operator of the block with 95pc interest and the remaining 5pc with Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL).

Mari Petroleum, a commercial arm of the army-led Fauji Foundation with shareholding from the federal government, said it further planned to expedite exploration activities in the area to mature other prospects for drilling.

Believed to be a highly promising hydrocarbon area among the exploration and development community, Kohlu Block-28 remained a virtually no-go area for local and international companies for about 33 years because of security concerns. Successive petroleum concession holders repeatedly announced force majeure over the block. Its exploration licence was first given to a British major in 1991 with shareholding from state-run OGDCL and since then has changed hands in the absence of a security cover.

Plans to expedite activities in highly promising hydrocarbon area

The MPCL said the gas discovery emerged from its exploratory efforts at Maiwand X-1 St-1 exploration well, drilled in Block 28. It is in close vicinity of the Sui gas field that fuelled the country for almost six decades and also near Zin Block where major deposits have been identified albeit with a low heating value that could not be flowed through pipelines but could be utilised on-site for fertiliser and power production like Uch gas field, generating over 900MW of cheap electricity.

The Directorate General of Petroleum Concessions (DGPC) of the Ministry of Energy welcomed the discovery through drilling in the “first exploratory well in a highly security sensitive area where exploration activities were at halt since the grant of Exploration License in 1991”.

A special security force was created for the area a couple of years back to facilitate the company to enter the exploration block spread over 6,200 sq km.

An official said the gas discovery was not big in itself since it was the first exploratory drill in the area but it was very significant as it proved hydrocarbon presence in a security sensitive area. “It’s a new opening that needs aggressive follow-up to prove reserves and whether these are viable from economic and commercial aspects,” he said.

The company said the well was spudded on June 12, 2023 and successfully drilled down to 2,516 metres on Nov 12, 2023. “Multiple promising zones were tested during Drill Stem Tests.” At chock size of 1/64 inch, Dughan & Rank Kot formation flowed 4.14 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) at 186 Psi (pound per square inch) and 86 degree Fahrenheit while Pab & Mughal kot formation 0.79 mmcfd of gas and 554 barrels per day of water flowed at 138Psi and 92’F. Likewise, two other formations also contained minor gas flows.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2024

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