Eighteen wells have been drilled so far in Pakistan’s offshore area but no oil and gas reserves have been discovered to date. The offshore area is still under exploration by the local companies, and there are two active exploration licences but there is ‘no firm commitment’ of drilling of wells this year, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar told Senate on Friday.
The federal government previously engaged a number of international companies for deep-sea exploration of oil and gas in Pakistan, he stated in a written reply to Zeeshan Khanzada from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the Senate sitting.
Khanzada asked whether any proposal is under consideration to undertake exploration of crude oil in the deep-sea within the territorial waters of the country, if so, the name of drilling firm / company shown interest in the said exploration— and whether government invited international oil exploration firms for deep-sea exploration of crude oil in Pakistan.
The minister, in his written reply, mentioned the names of some 14 petroleum companies that have started exploratory activities in Pakistan. “As deep-sea oil and gas exploration requires extensive high-tech capabilities and entails huge financial resources, the initial exploratory efforts resulted in failure for deep sea exploration,” the minister admitted in the reply.
In an embarrassing scenario for the government, Parliamentary Affairs State Minister Ali Muhammad Khan ‘advised’ the opposition lawmakers in Senate to walk out of the House, which they did, leading to the abrupt adjournment of the Senate sitting due to lack of quorum.
Faisal Saleem Rahman from PTI presided over the Senate sitting in the absence of Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi. Speaking on the floor of the House, Leader of the Opposition Yousaf Raza Gillani said the conditions set by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) for Pakistan are very harsh. “These people (government) would not be able to bear with those conditions. The government is making the people of Pakistan a scapegoat by introducing this mini-budget,” he deplored.
“Unbridled increase in prices of different essential commodities has become a daily routine for this government. It is simply unbearable for the people,” Gilani said, condemning the ‘bulldozing’ of mini-budget in National Assembly.
Responding to the leader of the opposition, Leader of the House in Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem said, the mini-budget was passed by voting in National Assembly. “Vote is the very basis of democracy in a parliamentary system. The elected lawmakers from the lower house of the Parliament have recorded their verdict in favour of the mini-budget through their votes. The decisions taken by the National Assembly should be accepted and honoured,” he said.
“Those people are worried about the 220 million people of Pakistan who, when they were in government, asked people to leave this country,” Waseem added. Mushtaq Ahmed from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) lambasted the government for increasing electricity prices. “This is highest order of injustice— highest order of tyranny.
The government is taking decisions in total disregard to the plight of hapless masses who have been destroyed by unprecedentedly unjustified inflationary measures,” he said.
“We reject this tyranny. This should be resisted more than anything else,” he added. The parliamentary affairs state minister condemned the attitude of the opposition towards Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser during the House sitting related to the passage of mini-budget earlier on Thursday. “We condemn this kind of attitude.
We never resorted to such derogatory behaviour towards the speaker National Assembly /chairman Senate,” he said. “I will take up this issue in the House today. If opposition does not have the courage to hear the truth, it may walk out of the House,” he said.
The minister’s remarks attracted strong backlash from opposition which protested against him and walked out of the House. Quratulain Marri from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) pointed out the quorum. Upon counting, the quorum was found to be lacking as only 15 members in the House were present against the required number of 25 out of 100 members (one-fourth of the total membership of the House), leading to the sitting’s adjournment. Senate is scheduled to meet again on Monday.
This report was first published in Business Recorder on Jan 15, 2022.