ExxonMobil close to hitting huge oil reserves in Pakistan, bigger than Kuwait’s

Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s caretaker Minister for Maritime Affairs and Foreign Affairs, speaking at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. (AN photo)
Updated 05 August 2018
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ExxonMobil close to hitting huge oil reserves in Pakistan, bigger than Kuwait’s

  • The US energy giant has drilled up to 5,000 meters near the Pakistan-Iran border, says Pakistan foreign minister
  • If the oil deposits are discovered as expected, Pakistan will be among the top 10 oil-producing countries, ahead of Kuwait in sixth position

KARACHI: The US energy giant ExxonMobil is close to hitting huge oil reserves near the Pakistan-Iran border, which could be even bigger than the Kuwaiti reserves, says Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s caretaker minister for maritime affairs and foreign affairs.

ExxonMobil, the American multinational oil and gas company, has so far drilled up to 5,000 meters close to the Iranian border and is optimistic about the oil discovery, Haroon told business leaders at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
If the oil deposits are discovered as expected, Pakistan will be among top the 10 oil-producing countries ahead of Kuwait in sixth position.
Kuwait’s oil reserves make up 8.4 percent of the oil reserves in the world. Kuwait claims to hold about 101.50 billion barrels, including half of five billion barrels in the Saudi-Kuwaiti neutral zone which Kuwait shares with Saudi Arabia.
According to current estimates, 81.89 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 65.36 percent of the OPEC total, latest OPEC data shows.
Pakistan’s foreign minister also said that his government has already taken an undertaking from ExxonMobil to set up a generation complex worth $10 billion.
“They are also putting up an LNG berth at Port Qasim, the second seaport in Karachi. They have already paid for the drilling rights in Pakistan,” Haroon added.
He said: “Pakistan is providing a level playing field to foreign investors and they are interested in coming to Pakistan. What we need to do is to meet their standards and attract them to make investment.”
In May 2018, the ExxonMobil had acquired 25 percent stakes in offshore drilling in Pakistan. The agreement was signed at Prime Minister’s Secretariat among ExxonMobil, Government Holdings Private Limited, PPL, Eni and the Oil and Gas Development Corporation.
The agreement has reduced the drilling share of other partner exploration companies to 25 percent each.
Haroon said that Pakistan is being dragged into the US-China trade war but “the country is maintaining its impartiality.”
“When we sought a much-needed external loan from China, which they initially had refused, the US expressed its annoyance,” Haroon added.
Pakistan currently meets only 15 percent of its domestic petroleum needs with crude oil production of around 22 million tons; the other 85 percent is met through imports. The country facing huge current account deficit of up to $18 billion is spending a substantial amount of foreign exchange reserves on import of oil. The import bill of Pakistan rose by to $12.928 billion in the July-May 2017-18 period of the last fiscal year.
Pakistan’s foreign minister also talked about the current water crisis and its impact on Indo-Pak relations. “India is acting to control water flows which would endanger Pakistan’s food security and they would ruin our crops,” he said.
Haroon called for the integration of Karachi Port and Port Qasim so that they could supplement each other in the larger interest of the country.
He underlined the need for a new area for a fish harbor as the existing one has many issues and there is shortage of land. He regretted that the harbor is not well kept and hoped that the European Union will give subsidy for a new one.
Ghazanfar Bilour, president of the FPCCI, said that Pakistan trade was facing global competition both in terms of marketing products and trade diplomacy as the agreement signed by Pakistan to expand exports was not providing potential benefits. “We need strong advocacy to achieve market access for Pakistani products in other leading markets, and correction in the existing bilateral trade agreements,” he noted.
Tariq Haleem, vice president of the FPCCI, called for bringing down the cost of doing business and improving efficiency at all Pakistan ports.
“At Karachi Port, about 27 million tons (import and export) of dry and liquid cargo is handled per annum. But, in actual fact, these volumes were not satisfactory, the reason being the extreme shortage of space at the Karachi port,” he said.


UN health chief orders probe into misconduct

Updated 17 January 2019
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UN health chief orders probe into misconduct

  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told staffers he had instructed the head of WHO’s office of internal oversight to look into the charges raised by the emails
  • Critics, however, doubt that WHO can effectively investigate itself

LONDON: The head of the World Health Organization has ordered an internal investigation into allegations the UN health agency is rife with racism, sexism and corruption, after a series of anonymous emails with the explosive charges were sent to top managers last year.
Three emails addressed to WHO directors — and obtained exclusively by the Associated Press — complained about “systematic racial discrimination” against African staffers and alleged other instances of wrongdoing, including claims that some of the money intended to fight Ebola in Congo was misspent.
Last month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told staffers he had instructed the head of WHO’s office of internal oversight to look into the charges raised by the emails. He confirmed that directive to the AP on Thursday.
Critics, however, doubt that WHO can effectively investigate itself and have called for the probe to be made public.
The first email, which was sent last April, claimed there was “systematic racial discrimination against Africans at WHO” and that African staffers were being “abused, sworn at (and) shown contempt to” by their Geneva-based colleagues.
Two further emails addressed to WHO directors complained that senior officials were “attempting to stifle” investigations into such problems and also alleged other instances of wrongdoing, including allegedly misspent Ebola funds.
The last email, sent in December, labeled the behavior of a senior doctor helping to lead the response against Ebola as “unacceptable, unprofessional and racist,” citing a November incident at a meeting where the doctor reportedly “humiliated, disgraced and belittled” a subordinate from the Middle East.
Tedros — a former health minister of Ethiopia and WHO’s first African director-general — said investigators looking into the charges “have all my support” and that he would provide more resources if necessary.
“To those that are giving us feedback, thank you,” he told a meeting of WHO’s country representatives in Nairobi last month. “We will do everything to correct (it) if there are problems.”
But Tedros refuted claims that WHO’s hiring policies are skewed, arguing that his top management team was more geographically diverse and gender-balanced than any other UN organization after adopting measures to be more inclusive.
“There is change already happening,” he said during the December staff meeting, according to an audio recording provided to the AP.
WHO’s in-house investigation into misconduct comes after other UN agencies have been rocked by harassment complaints.
At UNAIDS, chief Michel Sidibe agreed to step down after an independent report concluded in December that his “defective leadership” had created a toxic working environment, with staffers asserting there was rampant sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power.
The author of the anonymous WHO emails also charged there were “crooked recruitment and selection” processes that were “tantamount to fraud, corruption and abuse of authority.”
In the latest anonymous message, the author singled out the supposedly flawed hiring process of a senior director in WHO’s emergencies department, suggesting that might have led to mistakes being made by incompetent officials involved in efforts to stop Ebola in Congo.
Some staffers feared that funds donated to stem the spread of the deadly virus “have not been used judiciously,” the email said, warning such blunders could undermine WHO’s credibility.
“A plane was hired to transport three vehicles from the warehouse in Dubai at the cost of $1 million. Why would WHO ship vehicles from Dubai? We would appreciate the rationale when jeeps in DRC (Congo) can be purchased at $80,000 per vehicle,” the email said, claiming that “corruption stories about logisticians and procurement in WHO’s (Geneva emergencies department) are legendary.”
David Webb, director of WHO’s office of internal oversight, told staffers that Tedros had asked him “to conduct an appropriate investigation” into the issues raised in the emails. Webb said he and his team would scrutinize those accusations, in addition to the approximately 150 other claims that have been reported to his office this year.
“My team is trying their best to go to DRC (Congo), to go to where the allegations are with an effort to find the facts,” he said.
The revelations about the alleged wrongdoing were likely to prompt discussions next week at WHO’s executive board meeting at its Geneva headquarters.
Webb said the investigation would be conducted independently even though it would be done by WHO staffers.
Critics outside the organization felt that was not enough.
“That’s the same office that botched the initial investigation at UNAIDS,” said Edward Flaherty, a lawyer who represents Martina Brostrom, the UNAIDS whistleblower whose sexual harassment allegations ultimately triggered Sidibe’s resignation. “Having an internal investigation at WHO is as good as doing nothing.”
Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who previously worked at WHO and now serves on several of its advisory groups, wasn’t surprised by the emails’ claims of racism, sexism and corruption.
“After what I’ve seen at WHO, I have no doubt that everything in those emails is true,” he said, although he had no evidence to prove the specific claims.
Tomori said he and his African colleagues had often been subjected to “slights that turned to slurs, embarrassing humiliations and rudeness that escalated to abuse” from fellow WHO staffers.
He predicted that without an independent investigation, more complaints would continue to spill out.
“People have known about these problems for a long time,” he said. “But nobody wants to talk because they’re afraid.”