SINDH HOLDS PAKISTAN'S LARGEST GAS RESERVES
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2010
Data presented by independent analysts belonging to Sindh province and leaders of provincial parliaments substantiated on different occasions the claim that Sindh province has the largest gas reserves in Pakistan. Contrary to the conventional perception about Balochistan's Sui gas field holding largest gas reserves and meeting national gas requirements, they latch on to the line that Sindh still meets the major demands of gas in the country and still has left with huge unexplored gas reserves to claim biggest gas reservoir among provinces.
During a high-level conference attended by astute and experienced politicians from Sindh organised by a local non-government organisation recently, it was revealed that Sindh was producing 71 per cent of total gas in the country. Pakistan Energy Year Book 2007 by ministry of petroleum and natural resources also calculated Sindh's share in total national gas production at 71 per cent. Balochistan's Sui gas field meeting 20 to 25 per cent gas demands in the country is the oldest explored field in the country while first gas reserve in Sindh was tapped in 80s. According to an estimate, Sindh has been providing gas to the country for last 30 years.
Sindh has also mega untapped gas reserves which if explored would alleviate the grinding poverty across the rural province given the rights to the province on its resources. Since the exploration is a capital intensive and needs enormous investments on infrastructure, drilling, and other technology inductions, large gas reserves are still untapped.
A latest estimate says that Miano and Sawan gas fields in Sindh have reserves of approximately six to eight trillion cubic feet, which is 'gas initially in place' (GIIP). In a meeting with Australian gas exploration company OMV that embarked on first time in Pakistan horizontal drilling to develop tight gas reserves in Sindh-gas rich fields, petroleum ministry apprised the company of unconventional gas reserves in the province and asked it to accelerate works on such reserves, which are difficult to be tapped but are lucrative because of its holding large volumes. Affirmatively, the company referred the studies it collected and verified from various sources that suggest the presence of six to eight trillion cubic feet gas reserves in fields of Miano and Sawan that on daily basis would be capable of turning up 400 mmcf. However, the company mentioned during the meeting that these reserves are tight and need a long gestation period to become commercially viable for producer and developer. Besides, horizontal drilling technology is the latest addition in the oil and gas sector of Pakistan and needs additional investments. This technology gives access to gas present underneath solid earthen plates.
Federal and provincial governments are much serious to develop these and other fields including unconventional reserves to add substantial energy to the national energy basket. Recently, ministry of petroleum has announced special incentives and exclusive terms and conditions for exploration venture in to development and production of tight reserves. Time and capital are the two distinguished factors of tight gas exploration. For example, OMV estimated two years to extract 200 mmcfd from several blocks of Miano and Sawan. According to an initial estimate, more than two billion dollars would be required to develop these fields and make them operational. Petroleum ministry in its report said OMV was tasked to drill 1200 meters horizontal section at 14 wells in Sawan, noting 200 mmcfd would be produced from these wells within two years. The report further said another 200 mmcfd would be generated from 57 wells in Miano in four to six years.
Australian OMV has already started works on gas fields in Miano. "The first test well in "C sands" of Miano has already been completed and production of 2.32 mmcfd gas has initially started from Miano well No 12," OMV officials informed the ministry.
An issue of control over provincial resources has always remained a source of conflict between the centre and provinces. Small provinces resent the formula of distribution of wealth generated by the centre from their geographical boundaries. The distribution formula, which was based on controversial criteria, was changed after the 7th National Finance Award, but the voice of absolute control over resources by province has yet to be toned down resulting in to anarchy in Balochistan. It is a perhaps a matter of implementation that can assuage angers of people brewing up for years. Sindh also shares the anxiety among people of restive Balochistan that contribution of resources by provinces to national wealth should also be reflected in the provincial psychography and developments. Typically, the areas of Sindh that produce energy for the country are highly underdeveloped. Badin, Nara in Khairpur, Ghotki, Sehwan and Thano Bola Khan in Jamshoro and Johi in Dadu have rich oil and gas fields and in many spots of rural vicinities, multinational petroleum companies are raking up money. But, it is an irony that these areas pose a miserable picture of lives on earth without basic facilities of health, education, and sanitation. Over and above that, gas royalties, which are though minuscule, from the federal government for these areas are also not passed on for the benefits of local population.
Local politicians make demand loud and clear of financial autonomy and control over provincial resources. The present government also supported the idea of financial autonomy, but it has so far failed to make the legislation to this end.
Energy crisis in the country is increasing rapidly and it is obvious there is a need to develop domestic energy resources to fill demand and supply gap without spending foreign exchange on energy imports. This means confidence building of and respecting rights of provinces.