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Seismic survey by Union Texas

Exploring Karachi for oil and gas

June 28 - July 04,1999

  1. Seismic survey by Union Texas
  2. Hubco issue continues
  3. Outlook for oil & gas
  4. National road network plan
  5. HMC facing severe financial crunch
  6. The budget: Another view
  7. Prospects of oil palm cultivation

It was a pleasant surprise for the people of Karachi to see the teams of Union Texas Pakistan (UTP) experts, equipped with sophisticated accouterments, on the city roads carrying out a seismic survey to explore for oil and gas in the metropolis.

Since a large number of people were unaware of the seismic survey, they innocently spread tittle-tattles, and rumours when they saw the mid-night operations in the earmarked areas cordoned off by the law enforcing agencies. Some kite flying stories also appeared about the mid-night operations in a section of the press.

The seismic survey, spread over a stretch of 50 kilometers of Karachi, however, is successfully completed and the next phase of data processing is in the pipeline.

Mausuf Ahmad, Senior Division and Resident Manager, UTP, although declined to give any indication regarding results of the survey, but he said that data was being processed, one should always hope for the best. The positive results may add another distinction to Karachi which already enjoys the status of the economic capital of Pakistan.

The government had awarded the licence of "Karachi Concession" for oil and gas exploration primarily to Unocal Pakistan Ltd in 1997. The UTP and Edison International SpA also joined Unocal by converting it into a group. "Since UTP having a rich experience of working in Pakistan for 25-30 years, it is now leading the group," said Mausuf.

This three year licence is now held by this group in collaboration with the government. The exploration phase consists of geological and geophysical fieldwork, technical analyses and potentially an exploration well.

Maj (Retd) Rehan Ashraf, Manager Land Affairs, UTP, who also extended his support in writing this write-up, was, however, extra-cautious in passing on the informations probably to ensure accuracy. He was concerned even for commas and full stops on the piece of papers.

The priority lines were Korangi Road, Sharea Faisal, University Road and National Stadium Road. The Hill Park area near National Stadium was the area of interest. The programmed testing was carried out from Korangi Road. The data acquisition operation was directed from the Base Camp and carried out after mid night.


Traffic police vehicle ahead of the seismic crew was arranged to stop vehicles entering the work area. Ahead of the police vehicle, there was a torch or flagman to warn that the area was protected. The length of the convoy was 100 meters and moving at a speed of about 3km per hour. All vehicles were equipped with flashing beacons and headlights. A large sign on the back of the truck was fitted with electric flashing warning signals. Rangers were detailed to provide complete security to the crew and the operation.

Commencing from Oct 24, 1997, the 3-year agreement of Karachi Concession earmarks a total area of 2328.7 sq km which includes 50 km urban area of Karachi and 1828,7 km of the city, the outskirts in the vicinity of Gadap. The results of the fieldwork will help define the chances and locations for oil and gas potentials.

Mausuf said "the Hydrocarbon exploration" currently being carried out by UTP is not new for Karachi. Two exploration wells have already been drilled in late 1950's and the renewed interest is driven by the rapidly changing technology in the oil industry, he said.

Sharea Faisal, previously known as Drigh Road and Hill Park areas are the focal point of the current survey in view of their previous identification as potential locations in early 50's.

People inquisitive about the survey are approaching UTP with interesting questions. They want to know what would happen if their house was spotted as the potential area for oil and gas. The group exploring for oil and gas, however, has a rich experience of working in densely populated urban centres without disturbing or damaging the building structures. They have the technology to work horizontally, miles away from the exact location to reach the identified spot. Therefore, people should not start dreaming for compensations. They should think in collective terms as the discovery of the black gold may ultimately bring economic prosperity for the city as well as for the country. There was a time when "Milk and Honey" were used to be the symbols of the rich lands. The industrial revolution, however, has changed the concept. "Oil and Gas have now taken over the old symbols. Karachi may also be one of the rich lands in future, god knows."