LCCI asks Govt. to give priority to Punjab for exploration of Shale Gas deposits

LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Thursday asked the government to give priority to Punjab for exploration of Shale Gas deposits as the province is the worst hit by the gas shortage.

In statement issued here, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the Cabinet approval of policy framework for exploitation of 51 trillion cubic feet TCF Shale Gas deposits would help overcome shortage of gas provided the pilot projects are initiated without any further delay.

The LCCI President said that it was a long standing demand of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the government should tap other energy resources instead of banking on conventional gas reserves that are depleting fast. He said that it is a good omen that the government has given due consideration to the business community suggestions but the government should give priority to the province of Punjab for these projects.

He said that since Shale Gas exploration is highly capital intensive and requires high level of technological expertise therefore the private sector representatives should also be included in the Shale Gas Project committee formed by the Federal Cabinet for its timely execution.

Farooq Iftikhar said that the Shale Gas Policy Framework is a major initiative towards revival of industry and the business community hopes that the government would chalk out a timeframe for the early completion of pilot project and would not let it fall prey to bureaucratic hurdles.

He said that Shale gas project would revolutionize the gas sector as it would be of great help in the revival of oil wells that had been exhausted long ago. He said that although the government has extracted all the oils from these wells but still a lot of shale gas exists in hard form in these wells.

GAS THEFT: The LCCI President, however, has shown strong resentment at Dr Asim Hussain, PM Advisor on Natural Resources, for asking the OGRA to pass on to consumers the Rs 11 billion financial impact of gas theft.

Farooq Iftikhar said that the OGRA Act has no such provision and only allows recovery of prudent cost of gas supply from consumers therefore the business community was unable to understand logic behind the proposal that would lead to massive unrest and closure of a large number of businesses.

The LCCI President said that gas in a major raw material for many industries and if this proposal is implemented it would prove last nail in the coffin as industry is already passing through very critical times.

The industry that is already working for only eight hours a day and fighting for its survival would not be able to continue its operations. “Why should they be punished for the sins they have not committed.”

Farooq Iftikhar said that the LCCI understands that such a step would encourage theft of gas and give credence to pilferage that would become a norm.

The LCCI President said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry had repeatedly asked the concerned government departments to take strict action against those who are involved in gas theft but since it is being done in connivance with the functionaries of the department therefore no action has so far been taken.

GWADAR PORT: The LCCI President also appreciated the government for handing over the Gwadar Port to China Overseas Port Holding Company and termed it the biggest ever decision to promote economic activities in the region as it would result in Foreign Direct Investment of dollar 750 million initially and help establish seven industrial zones in Balochistan.

“Situated at the cross junction of international sea shipping and oil lines between the Middle East and the rest of the world, including China, Gwadar would play a crucial role not only in Pakistan’s development but also as a hub for international trade activities, the fruits of which would put Balochistan on the road to success.”

The LCCI President said that what government should be careful about is that it should make sure there are no letups in the execution of the project and that even minute details should be looked into to avoid repeat of what happened to the deal between the Port of Singapore Authority PSA and the government of Pakistan.

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