Pakistan stops celebrated offshore drilling as no oil and gas reserves found

Published: May 19, 2019, 15:31 IST | mid-day online desk |

Pakistan was hopeful of finding large oil and gas reserves in its territorial waters in the Arabian Sea

Representational image
Representational image

Pakistan's hopes for the discovery of large reserves of oil and gas off Karachi coast in the Arabian Sea faded as it stopped the much-celebrated offshore drilling after no oil and gas reserves were found, a media report said on Sunday.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's dream of the cash-strapped country becoming self-sufficient in oil has been dashed after no reserves were discovered in the Arabian Sea off the Karachi coast.

Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this year said Pakistan would not need to import oil after reserves were found near Karachi coast. "God willing the reserves will be so large that we will not need to import any oil," he said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar, announced that the offshore drilling in Kekra-1 did not yield desired results, Dawn reported.

"The operators of the well have decided to plug it in the coming days," the paper said. Around 17 attempts have been made in the past, but all remained unsuccessful despite encouraging data from each drilling, it said.

A senior official of the petroleum division said that after drilling more than 5,500 metres reserves were not found. Therefore, he added, it had been decided to plug the well and abandon the project.

Around USD 100 million has been invested in the project, but the officials of the petroleum division maintain that the data received from the drilling and other seismic studies of the well will be useful for future exploration activities in the region, the paper said.

At the same time, the officials say, oil and gas E&P is described as a "high risk-high reward" business and the failures should not be taken as a loss.

The drilling was initiated around four months back by ENI, an Italian oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) giant, which is the operator of Kekra-1. The other four partners of the well were ExxonMobil of the US one of the world's largest oil and gas firms Pakistan Petroleum Limited and the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL).

"Based on previous data the prospects were high and at the start of drilling the chances of success were between 13 and 15 per cent, which is fairly good," OGDCL spokesman Ahmed Lak said.

"Among the highest prospects of finding the hydrocarbon reserve is 20 per cent, therefore, our record was good enough to proceed with drilling," he added.

The last offshore activity was conducted by Dutch E&P firm Shell in 2005, but it failed to find hydrocarbon reserves. The first offshore well in Pakistani waters was drilled in 1963 by a US E&P company, the well was found dry.

Pakistan was hopeful of finding large oil and gas reserves in its territorial waters in the Arabian Sea. US oil giant Exxon Mobil, Italy's ENI and a couple of other companies were involved in drilling an ultra-deep oil well.

Babar told Geo News that the process of drilling up to more than 5,500 meters was completed on Kekra-1 (Indus G-Block) off Karachi coast.

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Edited by mid-day online desk with inputs from Agencies

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