• Local, foreign firms brief PM Shehbaz on 3-year plan
• 240 potential sites to be excavated
• Dar-led committee to formulate policy on reserves
• PM wants MoUs signed with China implemented soon

ISLAMABAD: Local and international firms have announced an investment of $5 billion during the next three years in Pakistan’s oil & gas exploration and production (E&P) sector.

The announcement was made in a meeting presided over by Prime Minis­ter Shehbaz Sharif at PM House on Saturday.

A delegation of companies from the oil and gas exploration and production sector informed the meeting that during the next three years, around 240 potential reserves sites would be excavated with an investment of $5bn to explore petroleum and gas.

The PM constituted a co­mmittee under the cha­irmanship of his deputy, Ishaq Dar, which would include experts, secretaries of relevant ministries, and other authorities.

The committee, after consultation with the E&P sector representatives, would formulate proposals to create an attractive policy for exploration and development of petroleum and gas reserves.

The PM also directed the relevant authorities to solve the issues faced by the companies and submit policy proposals to the newly-constituted committee immediately.

The meeting was informed that currently Pakistan’s domestic oil and gas production stood at 70,998 barrels and 3,131 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD), respectively.

The prime minister inv­i­ted petroleum and gas exploration and product­ion companies to also work on offshore sites and called the exploration of new reserves “top priority”.

The government spends billions of dollars every year to import oil and gas, and production from local reserves would save this valuable foreign exchange, the PM said.

He said local reserves will also make fuel and gas affordable for common people.

State Bank Governor Jamil Ahmed told the meeting that as per the PM’s instructions, oil and gas production companies have been allowed to remit profits to their respective countries.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy PM Ishaq Dar; federal ministers Ahad Khan Cheema, Muhammad Aurangzeb, Mohsin Naqvi, Amir Muq­am, Ahsan Iqbal, Sardar Awais Leghari; Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Jehanzeb Khan; Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Amjed Zubair Tiwana; and representatives of domestic and international E&P companies.

‘MoUs’ implementation’

PM Shehbaz also chaired a meeting to review the implementation of agreements and MoUs signed between Pakistan and China during his recent visit to China, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

The PM said he would not tolerate any disruption in the implementation of the agreements, which he would personally supervise.

He referred to the “time-tested Pak-China fri­e­ndship” and said Beijing had always supported Pakistan in difficult times.

China has emerged as a strong economic power, and Pakistan can emulate its development, he added.

The PM observed that a delegation of Chinese shoe manufacturing companies had recently visited Pakistan to discuss the relocation of their plants.

He said those companies had the capacity to inv­est about $5-8bn in Pak­istan and that the local shoe manufacturers association was in constant contact with the Chinese companies on this issue.

He also said negotiations with Chinese companies for relocating their solar panels and its accessories manufacturing units to Pakistan should be accelerated.

PM Shehbaz also said that about 12 renowned Chinese companies working in the agriculture sector would be taking an active part in the Food and Agri Expo being held in Pakistan.

Agri training programme

The PM also reviewed the progress on sending around 1,000 students on government scholarships to China for latest training to work in the agriculture sector. He said students from backward areas of Balochistan should be prioritised, besides other students from the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir on merit.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication informed the meeting about the progress made on Huawei’s technical training programme for around 300,000 students and other projects, including a one-stop operation for business facilitation, smart governance and smart cities.

The meeting also discussed the progress made on different projects related to communication infrastructure, power, and Gwadar. PM Shehbaz issued directions for expediting the development of the port, airport and industrial zone in Gwadar.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2024

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