Gas crisis: Asim Hussain defends govt’s energy policies

By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune

KARACHI: It takes a ton of confidence for a man sitting at the helm of energy affairs in a country where power and gas shortages are holding down annual GDP growth rate by 3-4% – as per the estimate of the Asian Development Bank – to claim that the government’s policies have brought investments of unprecedented magnitude into the energy sector during the last many years.

Speaking at a seminar on the potential of shale gas in Pakistan organised by the Petroleum Institute of Pakistan (PIP) on Saturday, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain said gas-sector policies that exist today are not available even in many advanced countries. “I have a few days left (in the job), but I hope that the legacy which I have left behind shall continue,” Hussain said.

Quoting a study carried out by a US-based company on the potential of shale gas in Pakistan, he said total shale gas volumes in the country are estimated to be 65 trillion cubic feet (TCF) while those of tight gas are supposed to be roughly 34 TCF. Pakistan’s known reserves of conventional gas are 34 TCF, Hussain added, noting that the combined reserves of shale and tight gases are almost 100 TCF, which is roughly three times that of conventional gas reserves.

“I do not want to alarm the nation, but the fact is that two of our major fields – Sui and Qadirpur producing 1 BCF, or 25% of our total gas supplies, will deplete by 2022. If we are not able to harness our potential, the country will sink into an abyss of darkness,” he said. He observed that shale gas is the future of Pakistan, as the country has “brutally burned” its conventional gas.

Recalling the achievements of the PPP government, he said his ministry gave the tight gas policy, low gas policy, marginal gas policy and shale gas policy besides expediting work on LNG, LPG, Iran and Turkmenistan pipeline projects.

“Many things that I say do not go well with the masses. But it is my job as a federal minister to tell the truth,” Hussain said with reference to his fierce opposition to the CNG sector. “The days of cheap energy are over. You have burned your cheap reservoirs. Now you have to go for expensive basins and reservoirs.”

Hussain paid glowing tributes to exploration and production (E&P) companies while urging them to become “driving force” of the country. “When I look at India, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the United States, I see E&P companies driving their governments. It is companies like WeatherFord and Haliburton, which control the destiny of the world. I hope that our E&P companies will also rise to the occasion and serve the nation,” he told the audience, which included CEOs of several E&P companies.

Hussain said the government is “completely reckless,” adding that officials of his ministry do not think on modern terms. He termed Oil and Regulatory Authority a quasi-judicial organisation, which is “singularly destroying the power sector”.

He said his government added more than 400 million cubic feet (mmcfd) in the past five years. “When this government came into power, gas production was 3.7 BCF. Now it is more than 4.2 BCF,” he said, adding that the annual depletion in supplies from existing reservoirs is 10%.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24, 2013.


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