Foreign Minister Clarifies ‘Exxon Exploration’ of Oil Reserves in Pakistan’s Deep Sea

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AUG 8, 2018 (BE2C2 Report): Clarifying media reports regarding exploration of oil reserves in Pakistan’s deep sea continental shelf, Foreign Minister Abdullah Hussain Haroon on Wednesday said the drilling was yet to start.

“On my return to Islamabad, a statement in Dawn newspaper dated August 4, was brought to my attention which required elucidation,” the Foreign Minister said in a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

“For information, ExxonMobil has purchased a block of Pakistani deep sea drilling rights off the Indus delta for exploration. Their drilling is yet to start as depths are very intense but they are very hopeful of success in discovering a big cache of oil,” he said.

“While the situation is not only good news and hopefully rewarding to Pakistan, anything further should not be added and may not be construed by my talk at the FPCCI,” the Foreign Minister added.

PKonweb/BE2C2 reported in May that US energy giant ExxonMobil has acquired 25% stake in offshore oil and gas drilling in Pakistan. Officials believe ExxonMobil will help bring state-of-the-art offshore drilling technology to Pakistan which will also help boost the country’s major initiative to tap its huge shale gas and shale oil reserves in the lower and middle Indus basin.

Shale oil and gas presents a new outlook for Pakistan which has the world’s 9th largest shale gas and oil reserves –far greater than total resources available in Central Asian states.

In 2015, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that Pakistan has massive deposits (10,159 trillion cubic feet) of shale gas and 2.3 trillion barrels of shale oil in the lower and middle Indus Basin – figures that are several times higher than those released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2013 and 2011.

The USAID study’s conclusions termed the deposits a ‘game-changer’ and future source for abundant petroleum products in the country.

A July 2016 article from the Financial Times cited a Wood Mackenzie forecast that, in the long run, about 60 percent of economically viable oil at price levels of US$60 a barrel lies in shale formations, not in desert oil fields.

Syed Rashid Husain, a renowned Canada-based oil & gas analyst told PKonweb/BE2C2, “Getting Exxon involved in Pakistan would be a ‘real’ game changer and indicates the shale potential of the country.”

One could hope at this stage, that despite having only 25 percent shareholding — equivalent to other stakeholders — Exxon would be allowed to play the lead role from a technical viewpoint as they have the technical expertise,” Husain added.

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