Farhatullah slams cut in indigenous production of oil and gas


–Demands probe into manipulating LNG imports at public expense


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) General Secretary Farhatullah Babar condemned the unexplained reduction in the indigenous production of gas and crude oil and the increase in import of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

He said, “Any reduction in the indigenous production of oil and gas means corresponding increase in expensive LNG import, increase in the power bills and pressure on limited foreign exchange reserves and the move appears to have been made to benefit the powerful importers of LNG at public expense.”

He said that according to reports, crude oil production from wellheads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was quietly cut by 10,000 barrels and the production of gas by 80 million cubic feet per day in December last year by the federal authorities. The move came to surface only because of a recent decision of the Council of Common Interests (CII) to disclose the production details, he added.

He further said that the indigenous production was cut down to benefit the LNG lobby at the expense of the poor of the country and was a misuse of authority. It must be probed and those involved should be prosecuted, he added.

Farhatullah Babar said that according to Article 172 (3), the mineral oil and natural gas within a province should vest jointly and equally in that province and the federal government. Late last year the federal government tried setting up a regulatory authority for controlling the lucrative petroleum rights thus divesting the provinces of any role but the move was thwarted by the Senate, he added.

He said that since 2014, neither a single block out of 35 pending blocks was offered to bidding nor the existing leases which had expired were renewed. This played into the hands of LNG importers even though it caused a loss of billions to both federal and provincial governments in royalty, he added.