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Pakistan oil & gas sector ‘A new trend’ (Part-1)

Pakistan has underground reserves of billions of barrels oil and billions cubic meters of natural gas, but still imports of petroleum products are very high.

Pakistan has a large enviable sedimentary basin (area) of 827,268 square kilometers; 10 times more than UAE and 72 times more than Qatar. But with only 1123 exploratory and 1496 Appraisal/Development wells i.e., exploration drilling density of 1.35 wells per 1000 square kilometers. Nevertheless, exploration efforts have resulted in 411 discoveries giving a success ratio of 1:2.8, indeed quite attractive. About 95% of these wells are concentrated in Indus Basin whereas, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Eastern flank of Punjab & Offshore still remains unexplored.

USA, Russia, Central Asia, Arab Gulf, and some parts of Africa are major oil & gas producing countries. Pakistan is also on the list of countries blessed with abundant oil & gas. According to an estimate, oil & gas reserves of Pakistan may be 27,000 million barrels and 150,000 billion cubic feet (Equivalent to 15 Sui’s), but indigenous production of oil is only 72,000 barrels/day and 3.6 billion cubic feet/day. These production numbers are not even near to fulfilling the daily constrained demand of 550,000 barrels per day of oil and 6.2 billion cubic feet/day of gas; unconstrained is estimated at 1 million barrels per day of oil and 8 billion cubic feet/day of gas. Hence, the energy sector constantly relies on oil and LNG imports to meet the demands, creating a monstrous imbalance of payment around $ 15 billion annually. Lack of investment in the exploration of new oil and gas sources is one of the key cause to be blamed for the current energy and economic crisis.

Time for the private sector to step-in and invest in oil & gas exploration and help the government defeat the energy crisis.

OKTA Exploration and Production Company Limited, a private sector has taken the lead on 15-January-2021 when it won two petroleum concession blocks (Block 28-North in Baluchistan and D.I. Khan West in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) in the international bidding followed by HUBCO, a giant on 8-March-2021 when it announced the acquisition of Eni (Italy) assets in Pakistan. The two events are not only trendsetters but the future of PSX, employment and economic recovery that Prime Minister Imran Khan desired all along.


Being a new local company OKTA EPL won two bid blocks leaving behind some of the stalwarts and put them re-think about their casual bidding strategies.

The company promises to lead the process of unlocking new horizons and realizing country’s energy resource potential innovatively and sustainably. The company is aiming to have 20 petroleum concession blocks, including 4 offshore by 2025 and it’s a positive sign for the growth of energy sector. Brief description of the two blocks is as under.

Block-28 North is situated in Balochistan spreading over 637 square kilometers. Geologically, it is situated in the Central Indus Basin, a highly prolific Prospectivity Zone-II, as delineated by DG Petroleum Concession. Gas discoveries of Zarghun south-01, Jandran-X-01, Jandran-X-04and Lakhi Rud-X-01 wells are around Block-28 North. The lease area also contains same subsurface petroleum system and hence chances of discovery are exceptionally high.

DI Khan West Block is situated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa spreading over 311 Square Kilometers. Geologically, it is situated in the D. I. Khan sub-basin a highly prolific Prospectivity Zone-II, as delineated by DG Petroleum Concession. Discoveries such as Savi Ragha-1, Zindapir-1, Dewan-1 & Dewan-2 make it a great prospect.

After encouraging results from initial studies, the company is looking forward to initiating detailed geological and geophysical activities for oil & gas exploration in both the blocks. It is being claimed that these two projects will start a new era for oil & gas by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies using artificial intelligence. No doubt that these prospects will aid in filling the demand-supply gap in the energy sector and will eventually lead towards the economic growth of the country.

It is the right time for large business houses, like Habib Group, Nishat Group, Engro Corp., Atlas, Bestway, Cherat, Lucky, Descon, ZKB and SKB and many others to step up and invest in the oil & gas sector either by purchasing the already developed gas fields from international companies or by farm-in (buying working interest) with local companies. There are only 4 oil & gas exploration scripts (OGDCL, POL, PPL, MPCL) on Karachi Stock Exchange; there is a dire need for more. SECP needs to make it easier for enlisting of oil & gas exploration companies. In Pakistan, a new dawn in oil and gas exploration is in the making.

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