The audit department of the Oil & Gas Development Company’s (OGDCL) has claimed to have uncovered a questionable award of an $85 million for the Uch Front End Compression Facility Project at Uch gas field. According to reports, it is alleged that top officials of the company are complicit in corrupt practices relating to this tender and the audit team has recommended scrapping the said suspect contract, arguing that the bidding process and the PPRA rules have been clearly breached in the process.

Details of the audit report reveal that the criteria for the tender was tailored in a manner to bring down the competition down to only two bidders, Presson Descon Int (Pvt) Ltd (PDIL) in a joint venture (JV) with Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd. (SNGPL) and Hong Kong’s HuiHua Global Tech Ltd in a JV with a local company AJ Corporation. In addition, both the bidders were supplying equipment produced by a single manufacturer despite the fact that different vendors were available in the market.

What is even more troubling is that former and sitting functionaries in the country’s largest state-owned exploration and production company are identified to have developed personal links with the joint ventures of the companies that managed the project through the highly questionable RFO (request for offer). While these officials have not been identified yet, the WhatsApp communications point towards the fact that top functionaries were deeply involved and active in ensuring the award of the contract to Presson Descon International Limited.

This is of course nothing unheard of, as it is one of the most common tactics used by officials to get kickbacks. However, such blatant manipulation of the tender process is unacceptable in this day and age and the authorities must investigate this thoroughly. More importantly, bids for state contracts should be transparent and public so that there is no room for such manipulation and corruption at the expense of the country and citizens.