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Nov 20 - 26, 2000

Oil, gas exploration accords signed

The government on Thursday signed two agreements with international companies for onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration. Onshore petroleum exploration licence was granted to the joint venture of Union Texas (UT), Occidental Petroleum (OP), and Government Holdings for exploration in Mehran Block No 2467-4 in the Thatta district, covering about 577.42 sq-km.

The other licence was granted to Ocean Pakistan (OP) and Government Holding for off-shore Makran Central Block No 2462-4, covering some 6,000sq-km.

The agreements were inked at a ceremony at the petroleum ministry.

Under the three-year licence, UT will conduct geological and geophysical studies and acquire 70km of 3d seismic data and drill four exploratory wells.

The block was awarded through a competitive bidding process and UT was assigned the role of operator in the joint venture. The total commitment in the Mehran Block is $5,070,000, according to an official announcement.

Ocean Pakistan will carry out geological and geophysical studies and acquire process, and evaluate a minimum of 200sq-km of 3d seismic data.

This survey will be part of a much larger 3D seismic programme covering nearly 2,100sq-km in the three Makran blocks operated by the company. The total cost of the overall programme is estimated at over $10 million.

Union Texas has drilled 120 exploratory wells and made 53 successful oil discoveries in Pakistan with the result that it is now the largest oil producer in the country. Its total oil production is 24,000 barrels a day and total gas production is about 200 million cubic feet a day. The UT is a wholly owned subsidy of the BP Group, one of the world's largest oil and gas companies.

High prices affect DAP use

The DAP fertilizer offtake in country during October has registered a sharp fall of 26 per cent as compared to last year period, due to sharp increase of Rs200 per bag in its prices.

This was disclosed during the Fertilizer Review Committee (FRC) meeting, met here on Thursday with Federal Agriculture Minister Khair Mohammad Junejo in the chair. It was attended by private importers, manufacturers and representatives of the provincial governments.

Officials said the meeting expressed its serious concern over such a drastic fall in the use of DAP fertilizer as the farmers could not buy the commodity, due to its higher prices in the market.

It was noted that lesser use of fertilizer in the month of October, when wheat crop was being cultivated in most part of the country, would play havoc with the output of rabi crops, the wheat in particular.

A government official, who attended the meeting, told that the Punjab government in particular was seriously offended for not importing the DAP through Fertilizer Import Department (FID).

CPI up by 4.76% during July-Oct

The inflation (Consumer Price Index) went up by only 4.76 per cent during the period July-October over the corresponding period of last year, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) on Monday.

The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) registered an increase of 4.67% and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) by 4.55% during the same period.

In 1999, FBS had shown CPI, SPI and WPI to have inched up by 2.89%, 3.43% and 2.79%, respectively, in July-October, 1999.

During the month of October, 2000, CPI increased further by 4.56% over the corresponding period of 1999. Disturbingly, SPI which relates to the lowest paid employees, registered a much higher increase in that month: 6.00%.

For the first time, the rise in WPI has exceeded that of CPI and SPI - 6.16%. As WPI mostly captures the price movements in respect of industrial raw materials, this increase is indicative of further acceleration in the spiral of cost of living in the months to come.

Uzbekistan seeks expertise in agriculture

The leader of the three-member Uzbekistan agriculture delegation, Dr Alim Pulatov, has said that his country was trying to make a break from the past in agricultural practices and was seeking Pakistan's cooperation to facilitate the transition.

He told that a participatory Resource Conservation Technology Project (RCTP), launched by the government of New Zealand in Pakistan and Uzbekistan is a step in that direction.

Under the project, the government of New Zealand is assisting the two countries in promoting resource conservation technologies that have become vital in view of the growing scarcity of resources in terms of availability of water, depletion of land and rising cost of inputs.

ISO certification

A new policy being introduced by the government will make it mandatory for all data collecting/ processing agencies in the country to get ISO certification.

A government official told that ISO certification is being made compulsory to enhance Pakistan's data credibility at international level. Registration to ISO 9000 would also be necessary for government, national and private organizations, who would use this data.

The policy said the ISO certification would assist national and international users in seeking standard data, which would fulfil their requirements.

Cyanamid to sell Lahore plant

Cyanamid (Pakistan) has proposed to sell its agro-chemical business and the company's plant at Lahore. In a statement issued on Monday, the company said that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders would be held on December 4 to pass a resolution allowing the company to sell its agro-chemical division business, "together with all the assets of whatsoever nature and wherever situated of the said division of the company, from the existing set-up so as to enable the company to focus on its core business more advantageously, economically and profitably".