The state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has embarked on an ambitious mission to elevate crude oil production to 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), a significant surge from the existing levels of 34,000 barrels. This endeavour, led by OGDCL Managing Director Ahmed Hayat Lak, is a commendable move that holds immense promise for Pakistan’s energy landscape, but it also warrants a broader perspective and concerted efforts.
Pakistan, like many nations, has grappled with soaring fuel costs and an acute shortage of US dollars. The restriction on opening Letters of Credit (LCs) for imports, including oil, has added to the country’s financial woes. In this context, an increase in domestic crude oil production couldn’t be timelier. It holds the potential to alleviate some of the economic strain and contribute to Pakistan’s energy security.
OGDCL’s five-year plan, aimed at progressively enhancing crude oil production, offers a ray of hope. It charts a course to add 2,000 bpd in 2023–24, followed by substantial increments in the subsequent years. Such growth not only aligns with the country’s energy requirements but also underscores the significance of technological innovations in the oil and gas sector.
The application of modern technologies and practices, such as the use of electrical submersible pumps, has already yielded impressive results. The Siab-1 well in the Baratai Block of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, for instance, has not only met expectations but exceeded them. Rig-less interventions have significantly boosted oil and gas production, setting new benchmarks for hydrocarbon exploration and production.
Yet, the journey towards energy self-sufficiency doesn’t end here. A vital aspect that requires attention is the localisation of oil refinement. The recently passed Petroleum Refining Policy of 2023, while a positive step, currently pertains to a single project. With the projected increase in crude oil production, it is paramount that Pakistan focus on refining oil locally. This move will not only reduce reliance on imports but also save precious foreign exchange.
OGDCL’s establishment of an “indigenisation unit” to reduce imports and involve local industries is a step in the right direction. The plan to cut imports by 25% and collaborate with the local manufacturing sector is a strategic move that can lead to substantial savings and self-sufficiency. Such a strategy will not only ensure energy self-sufficiency but also contribute to economic stability.