ISLAMABAD - Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Tuesday underlined the need for accelerating efforts to explore conventional and unconventional resources aimed at meeting energy needs of the country.

Addressing the concluding ceremony of the first-ever two-day “International conference on unconventional resources (ICOUR-I),” he said Pakistan had great energy resources and there was the need for consistent efforts to exploit them.

The conference was organized by NED University of Engineering, Technology, Pakistan and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, under the Framework Institutional Cooperation Programme of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms in collaboration with Petroleum Institute of Pakistan.

The minister said Pakistan was facing a huge gap between demand and supply of energy, saying that currently its total gas production was 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) against the demand of 8 bcfd of gas, adding that the oil production stood at 10,000 barrels per day, while its requirement was seven to eight times high than the production.

Highlighting efforts of the government to increase oil and gas exploration activities, Abbasi said a recent study had identified massive resources of Shale gas and oil in the country. As per the study, he said there was 188 TCF gas and 58 BSTB oil technically recoverable resource while the risked technically recoverable resources stood at 95 trillion cubic feet (TCF) gas and 14 billions of stock tank barrels (BSTB) oil as per the study.

The minister said Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) have been assigned the task to launch a pilot project to drill Shale gas and oil wells.

The study, completed in cooperation with USAID, covered lower and middle Indus Basin which geographically spread over Sindh, southern part of Punjab and eastern part of Balochistan. Total area under the study was 271,700 kilometers, which is 33 percent of total sedimentary area of the country. A detailed analysis of 124 wells were carried out including laboratory analysis on Shale Cores and Cuttings in the United States.

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said energy was considered a lifeline for the progress and development of any country, saying that it was as vital in the modern economies as was oxygen for humans.

During past 15 years, he regretted that no significant investment was made in the energy sector that caused 18 to 20 hours loadshedding in different parts of the country. He said the current government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) introduced prudent policies and curtailed the power outage duration to six to eight hours, expressing confidence that loadshedding would be overcome by the year 2018. The minister said 10,000 MW additional electricity was expected to be injected in the system by the year 2018, he added.

He said projects were underway to produce power from the Thar coal, adding that the Thar reserves were sufficient for next 400 years. Ahsan Iqbal said the PML-N government had set a target to place Pakistan among top twenty economies of the world.

Later, the conference gave five recommendations for development of shale, tight oil and gas resources of Pakistan.

It recommended that collaborative pilot projects should be undertaken by Pakistani state owned companies, OGDCL/PPL and the Norwegian State Oil Company, Statoil, possibly on government to government basis, to determine realistic numbers, appraisal and development strategies.

The conference suggested that NED and NTNU collaboration, through the Norwegian Center of Excellence, should be extended beyond academic studies and function as an Research and Development (R&D) “Incubator” for pilot projects. Both the governments of Pakistan and Norway may endeavor to provide funding mechanisms.

It recommended that the Shale Gas Policy Framework, drafted by the Ministry of Natural Resources, should be tuned to provide conducive terms and conditions addressing environmental aspects and improved fiscal incentives, such as tax relief, to encourage R&D and Pilot projects.

The fourth recommendation said the industry feels a strong need to improve the fiscal terms for the Tight Gas Policy 2011 to encourage exploration and production of this vast resource

The international moot recommended that NED takes leading focal role for taking forward implementation of recommendation. The Norwegian Government’s assistance is laudable and the government of Pakistan’s support in this initiative is indispensable. Norwegian Ambassador to Pakistan Tore Nedrebo also attended the conference.