ISLAMABAD: The Energy ministry has negated caretaker foreign minister’s tall claim of discovering huge oil reserves reportedly bigger than Kuwait’s in Pakistan near the Iran border by US energy giant Exxon Mobil, sources said.
Senior officials at the Energy Ministry on condition of anonymity informed *Pakistan Today* that the energy ministry has negated the tall claim made by the caretaker Minister for Maritime Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Abdullah Hussain Haroon that the US energy giant is ‘close to discovering’ oil reserves bigger than Kuwait in Pakistan.
They said neither a license for oil and gas exploration was awarded to Exxon Mobil nor the American multinational oil and gas company is currently engaged in the drilling of an exploratory well. Drilling work on the first-ever offshore block located near to Karachi is scheduled to start in January 2019, said sources.
The sources also said that the caretaker foreign minister has given an irresponsible statement on a sensitive matter which needs inquiry as it has added problems for the ministry, intelligence forces and concerned departments. Foreign minister’s statement contained exaggerated figures and it has made a seism movement in the petroleum sector, sources added.
Addressing business leaders at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Haroon on August 4 said that Exxon Mobil is close to discovering huge oil reserves in Pakistan near the border with Iran, and those reserves could even be larger than the oil reserves of Kuwait.
Exxon Mobil is part of a four-member joint venture engaged in oil and gas discovery which is located in the sea near to Karachi. And, Eni (Italy) is the operator of the oil and gas discovery in offshore Indus Block G.
Quoting the petroleum ministry’s license, sources also said that the offshore Indus Block G exploration license is a joint venture with Eni (Italy) as Operator with a 33.34 per cent working interest, the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd with a 33.33 per cent and Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. with a 33.33 per cent working interest. License area is about 7,500 sq. km, water depth about 1,600 – 2,800m and distance from Karachi about 250 km.
This license falls in the ultra-deep offshore category. And, recently, ExxonMobil (USA) entered this joint venture as an equal partner so that all four companies, Eni, OGDCL, PPL and ExxonMobil will each have an equal 25 per cent working interest. Operatorship will remain with Eni.
Currently, the plan is for the joint venture Operator (Eni) to drill an exploratory well in early 2019 with an investment of over $100 million. They said the skills and experience required to operate in ultra-deep waters is possessed by only a few companies in the world and Pakistan is fortunate to have two of these companies Eni and ExxonMobil as partners in this Block. The partners are optimistic about the prospects of this Block and in the case of success eventual investment in the Block could be as high as $10 billion, said sources.
Official sources further said that this under deepwater drilling in sea for oil and gas discovery will cost around $80 million and the drilling for oil and gas will be of 2,000 to 2500 meter under the deepwater while drilling from a floating rig station will be completed within 50 days.
Similarly, if oil and gas is explored after completion of the drilling of first well, then a test for the quantity and quality will be made and drilling of more wells will be initiated besides the start of commercial production of oil and gas from offshore Indus Block G. They said that development will be made for the start of commercial production which will cost three billion dollar. Development work of the oil field will take four years period, said sources.
When contacted Secretary Petroleum Sikandar Sultan Raja said actual facts have been communicated to the foreign office. He said Exxon Mobil has never initiated drilling for oil and gas discovery in Pakistan near with Iran border. He, however, said it is a positive development that multi-national oil and gas companies are working in country’s offshore for oil and gas discovery.