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Govt directed to put Ogra chief, other officials on ECL

January 18, 2013

Peshawar High Court. - File Photo

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the interior division to put the names of chairman of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and several other officials including that of Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL) on the exit control list (ECL) after an inquiry pointed out irregularities in the extraction of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Kohat oilfields.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser directed that Ogra chairman and the executive director of OGDCL, Basharat A. Mirza, should appear in person on Feb 13, the next date of hearing.

The bench also stayed transportation of LPG from the oilfields concerned and directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to stop all sorts of transportation of LPG from the fields. The bench ordered a senior investigation officer of NAB, Col Hussain Afridi, to prepare a reference against the concerned officials of Ogra, OGDCL and the Foundation Gas, a company to which contract of LPG distribution was assigned.

The bench ordered the interior division to place in the ECL the names of Ogra chairman, its executive directors, OGDCL executive director (strategic business planning) and general manager of Foundation Gas (Fongas).

The chief justice had taken suo motu notice of the issue after receiving reports that natural gas at different gas fields had been converted into LPG in illegal manner in Karak and Kohat.

The court had assigned investigation of the issue to NAB and FIA. Later on, NAB and FIA officials informed the court that natural gas could not be converted into LPG and in fact LPG was extracted from the oilfields.

On the directives of the court Col Afridi and Mohammad Irfan, an assistant director of FIA, submitted their inquiry report and stated that they had found several irregularities in extraction of LPG.

Their investigation revealed that prior to awarding the contract to Fongas in 2008, distribution of LPG continued for almost a year in a clandestine manner.

It was suspected that an LPG plant which was earlier set up at Chakwal was shifted to the oilfield in Kohat in an illegal manner.

It was alleged that the extraction and distribution deals of LPG also appeared to be in a shady manner. The investigation officers claimed that so far they had not been provided the deal through which three oilfields at Shakardara were given to OGDCL under licence from Ogra.

The investigators said that they had thrice directed Basharat Mirza to turn up before the investigation committee, but he did not appear. The bench directed the NAB investigator to hire services of experts from auditor general of Pakistan’s office and ascertain that till now how much LPG was illegally extracted and its market value so that the same could be recovered from the responsible officials.

The court also ordered Khyber Pakhtu-nkhwa chief secretary to constitute a task force to formulate a list about development projects that could be started in the districts where oil and gas were explored by utilising a portion of the royalty given to the province on account of oil and gas exploration.