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.

Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

Updated 13 November 2019

Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

  • The former motor giant chief’s legal team has alleged that both his arrest and the prosecution efforts have been illegal

TOKYO: The drama surrounding the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former boss of motor giants Nissan and Renault, has yet to reach its climax. Yet the plot continues to thicken with each new development.

On Monday, Ghosn’s defense lawyers unveiled court submissions highlighting the circumstances in which the 65-year-old executive was arrested and subsequently held in detention.

“We believe that Mr. Carlos Ghosn is innocent. We believe that the arrest and the prosecution efforts thus far are illegal and therefore Mr. Ghosn should be immediately released,” the head of his defense team, Junichiro Hironaka, said during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo on Monday.

Hironaka claimed that Nissan wanted to kick out Carlos Ghosn from the company and therefore put together a team dedicated to searching around for something that would justify them to do that.

“This prosecution motion wasn’t initiated because the prosecution side believed that Mr. Ghosn had committed an illegal act. Fundamentally there is a problem with this being treated as a criminal act,” he said.

Hironaka further said that the prosecutor’s office is supposed to be acting in the public good for everyone and not behalf of a specific corporation.

“From the investigation level, there were various problems and mistakes with this case. Furthermore, the Japanese persecution office can’t reach overseas so they rely on Nissan employees to go into Mr. Ghosn’s offices and residences and removed objects illegally,” he said.

Hironaka said there is no evidence to support the alleged wrongdoing claim that Nissan made payments to SBA in Oman, and Ghosn re-directed that money to himself or his family.

“The amounts that were paid by Nissan matched exactly the amounts due to SBA,” he said.

The lawyer had a similar response to the reports connecting some donations by Ghosn to a school in Lebanon that would somehow benefit himself. “There is absolutely no evidence or factual basis for indicating that,” Hironaka said.

He said that his team is trying to access correct information and find out what evidence the prosecution might have.

“I have made an effort to share information with the media, including the foreign media, during this whole pre-trial motion,” he said.

Under the Japanese system, the prosecutors are not required to disclose all the evidence at their disposal. Japanese law requires that prosecutors must disclose anything related to any evidence related to the specific filings they make.

They must also disclose any evidence that is related to the filings that are made by the defense counsel. However, there is no requirement for them to disclose evidence from other parts.

Ghosn was arrested at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Nov. 19, 2018, on multiple charges related to his stewardship of the two companies.

The cases involved not only Nissan-Renault and Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors (part of the Franco-Japanese alliance), but also the Japanese and French governments along with various key players from Asia and the Middle East.

Nissan was on the brink of bankruptcy in March 1999, with about 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) in interest-bearing debt.

This is when it entered a capital partnership with major French automaker Renault SA. Ghosn has been credited for turning the company around dramatically since then.

However, fears that the high-profile CEO and chairman was planning to merge Nissan into a much larger multinational motor alliance appeared to have fueled speculation regarding the future of the company.

It was reportedly argued within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government that the automaker would no longer be recognizably Japanese.

The case has larger ramifications and the two governments have routinely become involved in discussions related to its future.

According to news reports, when Macron and Abe met in Buenos Aires, the French president asked that the Franco-Japanese alliance be maintained.

On being asked by Arab News Japan about reports of a prosecution team visiting Saudi Arabia and Oman, Hironaka confirmed that the visit indeed took place after Ghosn’s arrest.

“However, we have not been given any access to any information that they may or may not have gathered there,” he said.