PM Abbasi appoints ‘blue-eyed’ Adnan Gilani as PLTL MD

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Azam Soofi removed from position to cover irregularities in LNG terminal

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has assigned acting charge of Pakistan Liquefied natural gas (LNG) Terminal (PLTL) Managing Director (MD) to Adnan Gilani whose appointment, according to sources, was previously rejected by former PM Nawaz Sharif owing to lack of experience required for the top post, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif had earlier rejected a summary sent by petroleum ministry ostensibly because Adnan Gilani could not fulfil the criteria for the post and lacked relevant qualification.

Upon this, the then Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi paved the way for the appointment of Adnan Gilani as Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) Chief Operating Officer (COO).  And, now after the ouster of Nawaz Sharif, PM Abbasi has assigned Adnan Gilani the acting charge of PLTL MD after the removal of Azam Soofi by the company’s board.

Available copy of notification dated 15th December 2017 to be published in the next issue of the Gazette of Pakistan Part-I states that Azam Soofi is removed from the post of CEO/MD PLTL with immediate effect.

“The competent authority has been pleased to assign acting charge of the post of CEO/MD PLTL to Mr Adnan Gilani, COO PLL till the appointment of a regular incumbent to the post,” read the notification issued by Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division).

According to sources, PM Abbasi had allegedly wanted Azam Soofi to go easy on the penalties ($300,000 per day) he earlier imposed on Pakistan GasPort Limited (PGPL) which owned the terminal that has so far failed to process the imported LNG since June this year. Azam Soofi had declined to waive off the penalty and was resultantly removed from the top slot of the company.

Reportedly, Azam Soofi is said to have imposed the penalty after the PGPL terminal suffered repeated problems and could not be commissioned by November 28th, as required.

The terminal’s three joints were reported to have collapsed on December 2nd, 8th and 10th, respectively, as gas pressure built up. Consequently, at least three ships carrying LNG and awaiting processing at the PGPL terminal were diverted and two other orders were deferred.

The second LNG terminal in the country is important for the smooth and continuous operation/functioning of three LNG-based power plants in Punjab. The cumulative capacity of these three power plants is of 3,600-4,000MW that include Balloki, Bhikki and Haveli Bahadur Shah plants.

According to sources, Senate chairman has been asked to include LNG scam in the agenda and convene an open discussion, summoning Azam Soof, PLTL Chairman Asim Murtaza and Petroleum Secretary Sikander Sultan Raja to respond to the queries related with the LNG business.

Senate chairman has been asked to intervene and ascertain the facts as the whole LNG business initiated in the country lacks transparency and in the process, billions of dollars are being paid to Qatar.

According to sources, the chairman senate has been informed that the 2nd LNG terminal at Port Qasim is flawed and is faced with startup problems and until problems are fixed, government will lose heavily as it will have to cancel orders placed for import of LNG ships in anticipation of the terminal completion.

Sources privy to Pakistan Today were of the opinion that the present government has learnt nothing from the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif who is facing corruption charges as the incumbent regime has continued with shady deals and protecting alleged criminals.

It is pertinent to note that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, previously working as Petroleum Minister had removed Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) MD Arif Hameed, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) MD Khalid Rehman and now Azam Soofi because they were raising their voice to ensure the business of LNG in Pakistan ran according to law and contracts signed with companies.

All three top man had contested to safeguard the interest of the country but were shown the door later on as PM Abbasi remained all out to appoint his favoured individuals to deal with the affairs of LNG sector.

After the removal of Azam Soofi, two ‘blue-eyed’ officers of PM Abbasi – Adnan Gilani and his immediate boss Mobin Solat – will run four companies under the petroleum division.

Solat who is already held responsible of record tempering in an inquiry is also being tipped as full-time managing director of Government Holdings (Pvt) Limited (GHPL) – the parent company of the PLTL and PLL.

On being contacted for a comment, Petroleum Secretary chose to maintain silence over the matter while Fasih Ahmad Khan, a spokesman of PGPL also did not bother to share the update about the second terminal currently facing technical issues and penalties despite repeated attempts by this scribe.