ISLAMABAD -  A parliamentary committee has been informed that Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL) has started seismic survey in district Gwadar of Balochistan to explore oil and gas reserves.

“The state-owned OGDCL has completed the geological survey and now, in collaboration with a Chinese Exploration and Production company, seismic survey is underway,” said Managing Director (MD) OGDCL, Zahid Mir while briefing the Senate Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas. The committee meeting was presided over by Senator Mohammad Usman Kakar.

Senator Usman Khan Kakar informed the committee that hepatitis was widely spreading in Balochistan and the poor people of the province can’t afford the hepatitis tests which cost up to Rs15,000. They urged the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to direct E&P companies to provide free of cost hepatitis tests to the people of the most under developed province of the country.

Zahid Mir said that for the first time in the history OGDCL has carried geological survey and after seismic survey the company will be in a position to start drilling. “The area has huge potential for producing gas”, he added.

MD said that OGDCL has spent millions of rupees on various developmental schemes in less developed areas and during ongoing financial year it will spend hundreds of millions across the four provinces.

The committee was told that OGDCL has launched a special talent hunt programme for the students of the less developed areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochsitan under which 50 students of each province were enrolled in Institute Business Administration (IBA) for which two months foundation course training was provided to the students of the provinces, but unfortunately only two students of Balochistan and none of KP managed to pass IBA admission test.

The meeting was informed that in the OGDCL would ink agreements with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and Quaid-e-Azam University for giving scholarships to the students of the less developed areas in order to bring them at par with the rest of the country.

The committee asked the Ministry of Petroleum why Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) didn’t establish regional offices in Peshawar and Quetta. Additional Secretary Ministry of Petroleum, Furqan Buhadar Khan informed the committee information would be sought from Cabinet Secretariat and OGRA as why no regional office was established in KP and Bbalochsitan’s provincial capital as per directions of the Senate.

Director General (DG) oil, Ministry of the Petroleum informed the committee that Pakistan’s current installed refining capacity is 18.79 million tons per annum (MTPA) with five refineries, while two more refineries are planned.

He has said that KP government is expected to sign an agreement with the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) for the setting up of an oil refinery at Karak.

Following a land dispute between the KP government and locals, state owned Pakistan State Oil (PSO) shelved plan of installing a refinery in KP that was proposed by former Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussian. The committee directed the departments concerned to ensure establishment of the refinery in Karak. “If there is any land dispute, the committee members were ready to help resolve it with consultation of locals.”

He added that Pak Arab Refinery Company (PARCO) and Attock Refinery Limited (ARL) are operating at 100% as per nameplate capacity while rest of the refineries are older, especially the two plants by BYCO group, which jointly represent about 38% of total installed refining capacity of the country.

As against the above mentioned refining capacity the actual annual production of the refineries during 2015-16 remained 11.7 million tons or 62% capacity utilization, he added.