ISLAMABAD – “Optimal exploitation of FATA’s sizeable reserves of oil and gas can help the country get rid of its energy shortages and pave the way for socio-economic uplift of the tribal region itself. Constitutional and governance issues, however, need to be tackled without further delay.”
This was the crux of a seminar titled, ‘Development Initiatives in FATA (II) – Oil and Gas Sector: Prospects and Strategies’, held at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, which was part of a series of such programs addressing diverse aspects concerning Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Chaired by Dr. Gulfraz Ahmed, former secretary, ministry of petroleum and natural resources, and addressed by Professor Dr. Fazle Rabbi, nominee coordinator in KPK for Oil & Gas Exploration in FATA, the seminar focused on potential reserves and the exploration and excavation of resources that can start a new era of development and prosperity in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Dr. Gulfraz stated that in the post 18th amendment era, the ownership and management of oil and gas was shared equally between the federal and provincial governments, while the revenues of production fields were entirely rewarded to the province itself. FATA, however, was left out of the equation undeservedly, resulting in its entire production accumulating into the central pool.
He maintained that if the royalties of its resources were duly given to FATA, it would result in the socio-economic uplift of the region alongside the development of sense of ownership among its dwellers.
He further stated that the oil and gas companies’ world over sniff for the potential reserves of this natural resource, and while FATA is among the brightest prospects of such reservoirs; its security situation is a matter of concern for these extra sensitive corporations. Due to this, according to him, the region was also missing out on thousands of dollars allocated for CSR activities by these multinational organizations.
Dr Fazle Rabbi earlier presented the technical insight on the subject underlining several prospects of oil and gas reserves in the region. He claimed that the oil & gas reserves in FATA were sufficient to meet and exceed the energy needs of Pakistan.
He shed light on some under development projects, challenges faced and strategies that can be adapted to expedite the processes of exploration and excavation. He also directed attention towards the probability of mining other unconventional resources in the region.
The event was also addressed by DG-IPS Khalid Rahman, and IPS associates, Ambassodor (r) Ayaz Wazir and Brig (r) Said Nazir Mohmand who termed the oil and gas sector in FATA vital for the region’s socio-economic uplift. The participants also lauded the role of the faculty and students of the National Centre of Excellence in Geology (NCEG), University of Peshawar who have carried out the required research work across FATA, braving all kinds of security risks. Their efforts have yielded extra-ordinary results and currently, almost all 17 blocks identified by the researchers have either been licensed to oil & gas explorations companies or are under process for bidding.