Pakistan seeks investment from Saudi, UAE for oil and gas exploration

A general view shows the Saudi Aramco oil facility in Dammam city, 450 kms east of the Saudi capital Riyadh on Nov. 23, 2007. (AFP/File)
Updated 21 September 2019

Pakistan seeks investment from Saudi, UAE for oil and gas exploration

  • Government plans to market ten new exploration blocks to Middle Eastern companies in November
  • The country’s demand for energy is increasing at the rate of eight percent per year, experts say

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government is hoping to get investment from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries at an upcoming bidding process of new petroleum exploration licenses, said the ministry of energy’s petroleum division on Saturday, adding that the exercise will reduce the country’s energy import bill, boost its foreign exchange reserves and bolster the ailing economy.
“We will be attending ADIPEC [Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference] in November to market our ten new exploration blocks for Middle Eastern companies, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Sher Afgan Khan, additional-secretary (policy) at the ministry, told Arab News in an interview.
The country is planning to award ten new oil and gas exploration licenses out of 30 blocks in December this year to attract foreign investment amounting to about $150 million. “Our explored oil and gas reserves are depleting fast,” he added. “Therefore, we need new exploration urgently to cut our energy import bill.”
Pakistan meets about 80 percent of its energy requirements through international buying. Its energy demand has also been increasing by 8 percent a year while its oil imports constitute nearly a quarter of its total import bill, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
The South Asian nation has indigenous gas production of four billion cubic feet per day, and its crude oil production stands at about 95,000 barrels per day which only meets about 15 percent of the country’s overall demand.
“In the last five years, we couldn’t award even a single exploration license to a foreign company due to security reasons,” Khan said. “But now there is no issue of law and order, and we are hopeful that the next bidding round for the award of new exploration licenses will attract the interest of new foreign players.”
He informed that his ministry had demarcated a total of 40 oil exploration blocks, out of which ten would be awarded by the end of the year and the remaining 30 would be auctioned in the next year and a half.
Pakistan was offering “the best prices” to the oil and gas exploration companies in the region, he said, adding that the country had total sedimentary deposits of 827,000 square kilometers while the area under exploration was 361,000 square kilometers.
Khan also maintained that about 1,100 exploratory wells had been drilled in the country to this day.
A delegation of the Ministry of Energy, led by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, is currently visiting the United States and Canada to market and promote the oil and gas exploration opportunities in Pakistan.
“During our interaction with US and Canadian companies, Pakistan’s perspective was shared and it was emphasized that Pakistan was liberalizing the gas sector and offering numerous tax incentives to attract foreign investment,” the secretary added.


Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case

Updated 21 October 2020

Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case

  • Competition and Consumer Commission launched Australian court action against Google in July

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog will consider its own antitrust case against Google, the commission chairman said Wednesday after the US Justice Department sued the company for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.
Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims described the US case filed Tuesday as one of the world’s biggest antitrust cases in the past 20 years.
“I’m delighted the D.o.J.’s taking it on and we’ll follow it really closely,” Sims told the National Press Club, referring to the US Department of Justice.
“We’re going to look at it and see whether there’s any value in what we might do,” Sims added.
Separately, Sims is drafting legislation to address the imbalance in bargaining power between Google and the Australian media businesses that want the tech giant to pay for journalism.
The bills, that will be ready to be introduced to Parliament by December, would empower an arbitrator to make binding decisions on how much Google and Facebook must pay media companies for news content.
Sims said his commission “had a lot of talk” with the US Justice Department before he released a report in July last year that recommended more government regulation on the market power of Google and Facebook that would ensure fair deals for other media businesses and more control for individuals on how their data was used.
Sim’s commission launched Australian court action against Google in July alleging the California-based company misled account holders about its use of their personal data.
The commission alleges the Google misled millions of Australians to obtain their consent and expand the scope of personal information that Google collects about users’ Internet activity to target advertising. Google denies the allegations.
In October last year, the commission sued Google in an Australian court alleging the company broke consumer law by misleading Android users about how their location data was collected and used. That case will be heard by the Federal Court next month. Google also denies that allegation.
Sims said Google was lobbying “every politician at Parliament House” ahead of draft legislation being introduced to make it pay for news.
Google has said the proposed laws would result in “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,” put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data “being handed over to big news businesses.”
Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it.