Mr. Barkatullah Lone is Chairman of GB International Economic Forum. He is associated with a FMCG Group in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is a Chartered Management Accountant and Chartered Certified Accountant from UK, Chartered Global Management Accountant from the USA, Gold Medalist Management Accountant and Public Finance Accountant from Pakistan plus he holds Masters Degree in Economics and Law from Karachi University.
He has been associated with the corporate sector in Finance and Audit profession at various positions for last many years. Besides his job, he has been appearing at various local and international TV channels as an Economic & Financial Analyst for last seven years. His analysis is telecast by various Pakistani and international TV channels telephonically since he is settled in Saudi Arabia at the moment. His articles on Economy and Finance are also published in various reputed magazines.
Accessible technology of ExxonMobil will help country accelerate exploration and make more discoveries in the future
Interview with Mr. Barkatullah Lone – Chairman, GB International Economic Forum
PAGE: How would you comment on the gas and oil exploration in Pakistan?
Barkatullah Lone: Pakistan has done well in gas and oil exploration as 113 new oil and gas discoveries have been made in the past around five years and 73 supplemental agreements have been signed to provide better price incentives of the 2012 petroleum policy for holders of older petroleum concession agreements. The year 2017 has been an excellent year in this regard as Pakistan ranked the fifth country to have discovered oil and gas. These discoveries have prompted the US-based ExxonMobil to join off-shore drilling efforts in Pakistan. American energy giant’s entry in Pakistan brings advanced deep sea drilling technology, its long experience in offshore exploration and production and its deep pockets to the country. US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that Pakistan has technically recoverable deposits of 105 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas and 9.1 billion barrels of oil. ExxonMobil is expected to accelerate exploration and lead to more discoveries and increased domestic oil and gas production. The new government of PTI has focused on oil and gas exploration since the new government has realized that Pakistan has great potential in this area.
PAGE: Could you tell us about the cost of exploration activities and the returns on investment?
Barkatullah Lone: Operational cost of exploring activities can’t be determined with certainty; however, cost of exploration activities is much higher than Saudi Arabia and lower than Iran.
PAGE: What must the incumbent government do to tackle the energy shortfall?
Barkatullah Lone: Although the government is attempting to add capacity to the grid in order to remedy the persistent power shortage, these measures will take time to come into effect. A more immediate solution to the problem is the conservation and efficient use of energy, as about 67 percent of domestic energy consumption stems from inefficient appliances such as lights and fans. Another alternative is to shift to renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar power. There is enough potential from wind generation to supply all of Pakistan’s electricity needs.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is another way Pakistan could turn towards cleaner forms of energy, as China is a world leader in total wind and solar installed renewable energy, at about 140,000MW. Moreover, WAPDA and IPPs Thermal power plants are running at 50 percent capacity. It means that only 50 percent of the total power is in workable condition. The plant factors of thermal power plants are about 75 to 80 percent worldwide. So it means that if the government works on this side we can add up to 20 to 30 percent of power in our system. This is a lot of thing for a country like Pakistan to save up to that percentage because it will minimize the present shortage to substantial extent.
Instead of setting up new power plant if the government improves the existing power plants it will be much better. The other important thing is to minimize the line losses and it can be done through establishing a team including the police force. The task of this team should be to shut down the markets and wedding halls, which remain opened till late night because a lot of energy is misused in the high resistance lights, which they use in late hours. The second task of this force should be to catch those people who are involved in the theft of electricity. If government succeeds in overcoming it, we can save much of our energy.
PAGE: Your views on the efforts being made by the state-owned institutions regarding the exploration of energy in Pakistan?
Barkatullah Lone: Pakistan’s state-owned companies are spending record amounts on energy exploration, including in areas more known for separatist insurgency, as old fields start to dry up. While global producers negotiate on further production cuts, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited OGDCL), the nation’s largest explorer, has more than doubled seismic activity, and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) has almost doubled wells drilled in the past three years as it becomes cheaper after the global crude plunge. The Government of Pakistan is actively seeking investment in onshore and offshore exploration activities, development of explored wells and construction of gas pipelines, LNG terminals.