NA body asked to assign gas and oil theft probe to NAB

ISLAMABAD - The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have asked the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources to assign the investigation of oil and gas theft in Karak district to National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The committee was briefed about the theft of oil and gas in the province, which is causing loss of billion of rupees. The provincial government and the FIA asked the committee to hand over the probe of gas and oil theft to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as it has more powerful laws regarding investigation and recovery from the culprits. The meeting was presided over by Member of National Assembly Bilal Ahmed Virk.

While briefing the committee about the gas theft in district Karak, the FIA official said that the FIA has investigated various cases pertaining to the same issue. More than six-dozen FIRs have been lodged against accused. Since the NAB has more powerful laws regarding recovery, therefore the case should be assigned to NAB. He said the NAB can obtain finding of FIA and police investigated cases to further investigate the oil and gas theft case.

KP Home Secretary Shakeel Qadir Khan also requested the committee to handover the investigation of the matter to NAB and the provincial government will fully cooperate with the investigation authority. He said that the KP government has earlier requested the NAB to investigate the case, but the bureau has replied to the provincial government that NAB doesn’t investigate theft cases.

On the plea of the FIA and the provincial government, the committee decided to summon the NAB authorities in next meeting to discuss the matter with them.

The committee directed the FIA and KP home secretary to make further consultation before the upcoming meeting of the committee. The committee has also shown its concern on the lack of cooperation of provincial government in this regard.

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “There has been Rs6 to Rs8 billion of gas theft every year in these areas of KP. Writ of the provincial government doesn’t exist in these areas and is unable to control the theft.”

Abbasi further blamed the provincial government that, “There has been Rs10 million/hour gas theft in the areas. Even people have installed their power generators on gas and selling the electricity, while provincial government is least bothered about it.”

Group Regional Advisor Middle East Africa and Pakistan, MOL Group, Ali Murtaza Abbas while commenting on crude oil theft in Karak district during the committee said, “MOL Pakistan is the victim in this issue, and had itself highlighted the theft to the police. We have installed a state-of-the-art fiber optic system with highly sensitive acoustic abilities, where any movement near or on the pipelines would be detected immediately. This system is the only one of its kind in all of Asia. We welcome the committee to come and visit our facility and see our operations on ground. We have also put in place a comprehensive hydro-carbon managing system whereby all bowers are measured at special weighing bridges before and after the filling point, ensuring no pilferage.”

The official spokesperson from MOL Pakistan, Barrister Masroor Shah stated, “The general perception is that all protests taking place in District Karak, KP are against MOL Pakistan, when in fact the protests are focused on the low pressure or non-provision of gas, that are actually the responsibility of the government and not our company, as we are just the operators in the area.”

Abbasi informed the committee that the KP government has not fulfilled its agreement for release of 10 percent funds from royalty collection to the protection of gas sector in the KP. The committee unanimously decided that legal experts from the KP government and federal government would be called in the next meeting of the committee to resolve the matter. The Committee chairman has shown its displeasure on the delaying tactics using by the concerned.

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