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Reports of new gas reserves of 40 trillion cubic feet (upped to 105 TCF in 2013 by US EIA) are specially welcome at this moment in Pakistan when it is facing a very serious and growing energy crisis. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) puts the estimates even higher at 51 trillion cubic feet. Even if the demand doubles from the current one trillion cubic feet a year to two trillion cubic feet a year, the estimated current gas reserves can last as long as 30 years or more.

Pakistan is particularly heavily dependent on natural gas for its energy needs. Demand for natural gas in Pakistan has increased by almost 10 percent annually from 2000-01 to 2007-08, reaching around 3,200m cubic feet per day (MMCFD) last year, against the total production of 3,774 MMCFD, according to Pakistani official sources. But, during 2008-2009, the demand for natural gas exceeded the available supply, with production of 4,528 MMCFD gas against demand for 4,731 MMCFD, indicating a shortfall of 203 MMCFD.

The gas supply-demand imbalance is expected to grow every year to cripple the economy by 2025, when shortage will be 11,092 MMCFD (Million standard cubic feet per day) against total 13,259 MMCFD production. The Hagler Bailly report added that Pakistan's gas shortage would get much worse in the next two decades if it did not bring on any alternative sources.

Shale gas offers an alternative source for energy-starved Pakistan. Rough estimates indicate the presence of at least 33 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas reserves trapped in tight sands, according to an ENI Pakistan report. Another report by Shahab Alam, technical director of Pakistan Petroleum Concessions, puts the estimate at 40 trillion cubic feet of tight gas reserves in the country. These unconventional gas reserves are in addition to the remaining conventional proven gas reserves of over 30 trillion cubic feet.

With the pioneering work done in the United States on deep drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract hydrocarbons from shale rock, it is now estimated that the US alone has over 1000 trillion cubic feet of recoverable unconventional gas, according to the Wall Street Journal. Unlike the bulk of world's conventional natural gas reserves that are found in Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Qatar, the shale gas reserves have been discovered in rock formations spread across many parts of the world, including Australia (396 TCF), China (1275 TCF), North America (1931 TCF), South America (1225 TCF), Europe (639 TCF), South Africa (485 TCF), India (63 TCF) and Pakistan (51 TCF). Many energy analysts argue that tapping these new hydrocarbon resources could be a game-changer in terms of global economics and geo-politics.

Increased production of gas from shale in the US has created a glut, pushing down gas prices from $13/BTU (million British thermal units) four years ago to just $4.23/BTU today, even as the price of oil has more than doubled. By contrast, the Iran pipeline gas formula links the gas price to oil prices. It means that Pakistan will have to pay $12.30/BTU at oil price of $100/barrel, and a whopping $20/BTU for gas if oil returns to its 2008 peak of $150/barrel.

To encourage investment in developing domestic shale gas, Pakistan has approved a new exploration policy with improved incentives as compared with its 2009 policy, a petroleum ministry official said recently. Pakistan Petroleum is now inviting fresh bids to auction licenses to explore and develop several blocks in Dera Ismail Khan (KPK), Badin (Sind), Naushero Firoz (Sind) and Jungshahi (Sind), according to Oil Voice.

Under the new policy, exploration companies will be offered 40-50% higher prices for the extracted gas compared with the $4.26/Btu price announced in Exploration and Production Policy 2009. Companies which succeed in recovering gas from tight fields within two years will get 50% hike over the 2009 price and if it takes more time they will get only a 40% hike on the 2009 price. As an added incentive, the leases for the fields will now be for 40 years instead of 30 in the 2009 policy, the official said.

Even with the higher prices for the tight gas offered to the exploration companies, it is estimated that Pakistan will have to pay a maximum of $6.50/Btu for the gas compared with $12.30/Btu for gas imports, according to a report by Platts.

Although it does burn much cleaner than coal and oil, the process of extraction of shale gas in Pakistan, or anywhere else, is not without risks, particularly risks to the environment. In the United States, there have been many reports of ground water contamination from chemicals used to fracture rocks, as well as high levels of methane in water wells. In the absence of tight regulations and close monitoring, such pollution of ground water could spell disaster for humans and agriculture.

Given Pakistan's heavy dependence on natural gas for energy and as feedstock for industries such as fertilizer, fiber and plastics, it's important to pursue shale gas fields development under reasonably tight environmental regulations to minimize risks to the ground water resources.

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Tags: Gas, Pakistan, Reserves, Shale

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 6, 2011 at 10:31pm
In addition to shale gas in many parts of Pakistan, there are also shale oil in Dera Ghazi Khan and Kohat basin, according to the following report:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sought German assistance in developing its oil shale potential and transfers of clean coal technologies for utilising Thar lignite coal.

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Amanullah Khan Jadoon has expressed this desire during his visit to headquarters of the German Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resource (BGR) in Hannover. He has led a three member Pakistani delegation to Germany to explore avenues of Pak-German cooperation in the energy sector, says a message received here on Friday.

The two sides reviewed the past cooperation between BGR with Pakistani institutions including HDIP, GSP and WAPDA. BGR also informed Mr Jadoon about their work in earthquake-affected areas of Pakistan for damage prevention and mitigation purposes.

The minister highly appreciated the contribution of BGR in economic and social development of Pakistan and urged them to continue their good work in the energy sector of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan economy’s growing at a rate of 7 percent per year requires increasing quantities of energy for its socio- economic needs.

In the wake of increasing international oil prices, Pakistan is seriously looking at developing alternatives to hydrocarbon, like oil and gas. A significant potential of oil shale deposits was identified in Pakistan in Dera Ghazi Khan and adjoining areas by HDIP and BGR in 1990s. Mr Jadoon invited BGR to work with HDIP to asses feasibility and potential of economic utilisation of oil shale resources of Pakistan.

The minister also showed keen interest in BGR’s technology for upgradation of brown lignite coal into smokeless briquettes, which can be used as clean and cheap household fuels in rural and urban areas of Paksitan. He invited BGR to develop technical cooperation with Pakistani institutions for production of such briquettes. He expressed the hope that this technology would be very useful not only for Pakistan but also for the entire South Asia region. The minister took round of BGR laboratories in Hannover dealing with petroleum geochemistry and application of satellite remote sensing methods in oil and gas exploration.
Comment by Riaz Haq on November 14, 2011 at 7:27am

Here's a Bloomberg report on new gas fields in Pakistan:

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Oil & Gas Development Co., Pakistan’s biggest fuels explorer, plans to spend a record $1 billion this year to drill 48 new wells and increase production, to help bridge the nation’s record energy deficit.

“We are following a very aggressive exploration policy,” Chief Executive Shah Mehboob Alam said in an interview at his office in Islamabad yesterday. “We are targeting a number of discoveries.”
A “sizeable” discovery in the northwest will be announced in “a couple of days,” Alam said, without giving details.
The company expects the Zin Block in Baluchistan to generate its first gas flows within two years. The block has estimated gas reserves of 10 trillion cubic feet and drilling is scheduled to start as soon as the government approves security plans within the next two weeks, he said.

“We drilled only five out a planned 15 wells in Baluchistan last year because of security issues,” he said. “Now, we have submitted a plan to the Finance Ministry under which the Frontier Corp. will raise a special force of 500 to 600 people.”

Baluch nationalists want political autonomy and a share of the resources in the province, where the country’s largest gas fields, including Sui, are located. The Frontier Corp. is part of Pakistan’s paramilitary force.

The company is also working in fields in western Baluchistan, including the Samandar field, west of Karachi, and Shahana, which is near the border with Iran, Alam said.

Fresh Bids

Oil & Gas will invite bids today for the development of Kunar Pasakhi Deep and Tando Allah Yar fields in the southern province of Sindh, Alam said. Previously awarded tenders had been canceled after being challenged in court for not complying with regulatory procedures.

The two fields may produce 280 million cubic feet of gas a day, 360 metric tons of liquefied petroleum gas a day and 4,300 barrels of oil a day, Alam said.

The company drilled 26 wells and made six discoveries in the year ended June 30, including at Nashpa in the northwest, which is producing 15 million cubic feet a day of gas and 4,700 barrels of oil a day, he said. Oil & Gas Development discovers fuel in one out of every 2.3 wells drilled, compared with an industry average of one in every 3.8, he said.

New Compressors

Oil & Gas Development will increase production after installing new compressors to plug leaks at the Qadirpur gas field by September, Alam said. The company plans to buy two new rigs this year.

The Qadirpur field in the southern province of Sindh contributes about 40 percent of the company’s total gas output.

Oil & Gas Development produces about 1 billion cubic feet of gas a day, or a quarter of the country’s total output. Its oil production is 60 percent of the nation’s total of 62,000 barrels a day. Pakistan imports 85 percent of its oil needs.

The company’s profit in the 12 months ended June 30, will be “higher than last year,” Alam said, without giving details. Oil & Gas reported a net profit of 55.5 billion rupees ($647 million) in the year ended June 30, 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 16, 2012 at 5:56pm

Toby Dalton, Director, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said here on Monday evening that the economic future of Pakistan was interlinked with its energy future, according to The News:

He made the observation at a roundtable discussion on ‘Political Future of Pakistan and International Community’ at a local hotel. The roundtable discussion was organised under the auspices of Centre for Peace, Security and Development.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he said, was a global think tank. “We think the dynamism that exists in Pakistan on its own terms, not in US terms,” he said.

“We understand issues such as circular debt, CNG issue and other issues being faced by Pakistan,” Dalton said.

The real issue was how Pakistan formed political consensus, how different political parties were brought together, he said.

“The fundamental problem is to bring confidence to bring investment,” he said.

“Energy is fundamental to the future, just as economy is fundamental to the future,” he emphasized.

George Perkovich, Vice President Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said Turkey was a very interesting example for growth. It was an ongoing struggle but there was so much interest to invest in Turkey, he said. Once such an environment was achieved, “the international community can come and augment,” he said.

He said we understand that many interesting things were going on in Pakistan.

He said the United States and other Western countries clearly want Pakistan to be peaceful.

“The sense of justice is very important in Pakistan and in any society,” he said. “To address injustices we need to involve the whole world,” he said.

He, however, made it clear that to bring about justice was “messy” and takes a long time but without it there could be no stability.

“We will be looking to see how Pakistan addresses these issues “internally” that were no doubt challenging, he said.

Perkovich agreed that there was growing awareness that whatever happened during the last 60 years doesn’t work and lessons needs to be learnt. Pakistan itself has these issues and “economic dynamism is the key,” he remarked.

In Afghanistan too, he said, the US was trying to bring some sort of stability. Responding to a question Perkovich said he understands Memogate but it was not the US government that should be held responsible for it.

Information Minister Shazia Marri said, “Whatever went wrong in Pakistan is not only because of Pakistanis.”

“Pakistan is not only an important country in the region; it is important in the world,” she observed.

“We need you to understand what our passions are,” she said. “Remedies need to come from friends who influence us,” she said.

“All democracies have gone through experiences,” Marri said. “We are in the learning process; probably in a more challenging way,” she said.

“We are a younger democracy which is flourishing,” Marri said. “We were gifted the world’s most terrible dictator. He had no right to rule our three generations,” she made the remark referring to military ruler Gen Ayub Khan.

“Then there was Zia who brought Kalashnikov culture,” Marri said.

“We have hardly four years of democracy,” she said. “Our children want to respect others, but it’s a two-way thing,” she said.

Faisal Siddiqui, leader of Muthahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said extremism was not only an issue in Pakistan; it was a global issue.....

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 21, 2012 at 11:20pm

Here's an Express Tribune story of a man inadvertently discovering oil in Bhawalpur:

When landlord Muneer Ahmed ordered the digging of a well in Bahawalpur, the last thing he expected to strike was black gold.

Following the discovery of oil near the Lal Sohanra National Park, the area was taken into custody by the ministry of petroleum and natural resources. The ministry also deputed security officials around the well and its surrounding areas.

A joint team of Pakistani and Chinese engineers has been formed to work in the area, said an official from the petroleum ministry. A large oil reservoir has been discovered but we are trying to locate its depth, the official said.

He added that engineers are also studying other areas in district Bahawalpur to check the availability of oil in the region.

The property where oil was found had been part of agricultural land donated to farmers, said Hassan Daha, former mayor from the area.

The land, however, is under the jurisdiction of Lal Sohanra National Park, he added.

Ahmed, who made the inadvertent discovery, said he was not aware of it earlier but has now been informed by officials that the area where the discovery was made did not fall in his property. The China National Petroleum Corporation has been tasked to work, in coordination with local engineers, in the area.

Meanwhile, the site has been cordoned off with barbed wire on the orders of local police chief Ishaq Jehangir.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 2, 2012 at 10:09pm

Here's Bloomberg on Pakistan's "vibrant" petroleum sector:

March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Asim Murtaza Khan speaks about plans to increase exploration and production. Pakistan Petroleum, the nation’s biggest gas producer, said it will explore for shale gas and start its own seismic and drilling units. Khan spoke with Bloomberg's Naween Mangi and David Merritt in Karachi yesterday.(Source: Bloomberg)

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 19, 2012 at 8:36am

Here's a NASDAQ report on new oil & gas discoveries in Pakistan:

With Pakistan having awarded some 47 exploration licences to various oil and gas exploration companies from 2007 up to last year 2011, a total of 38 new oil and gas reservoirs have been unearthed that helped boost the country's combined oil and gas production to 4,165 million cubic feet per day (MMcfd) from the previous 3,973 MMcfd.

Quoting unnamed sources from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported a to tal of 102 wells have been drilled up in various parts of the country in the last four years.

The same sources said Pakistan may expect additional boost once the expected 800 Mmcfd gas from local reservoirs is added in the system by August or September this year.

The Petroleum Policy in 2009, which extended incentives to oil and gas exploration companies in Pakistan, proved to be a much effective tool to entice as well as enable achieve self-sufficiency in the sector.

The policy has undergone a number of changes and revisions, but in principle, the Policy for 2012 would help further attract more local and foreign investment in Pakistan's oil and gas sector, the Council of Common Interests told the Associated Press of Pakistan. The federal government is expected to announce soon the Policy for 2012.

The Pakistan government is also working on establishing a number of pipeline construction projects to support its growing energy demand, including the Iran-Pakistan ( IP ) gas pipeline and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline projects.

"Work on the IP gas pipeline project is at a fairly advanced stage. Under the project, Pakistan will construct approximately 800 km pipeline from Iran-Pakistan border to Nawabshah. The venture has entered into the implementation phase and work on Front End Engineering and Design, Feasibility and Detailed Route Survey has already been started. It is scheduled to be completed by June 2012," sources said.

Invitations for bids to construct the pipeline will be made after survey completion.

The IP gas pipeline project is a 56-inch diameter development that covers 1,931 kilometres starting from Iran's South Pars gas field. The project implementation and construction is targeted in four years, with the first gas flow available by end December 2014, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported. The expected 750 mmcfd gas volume production will help generate 4,000 MW electricity, as well as provide job opportunities in backward areas of Baluchistan and Sindh.

With the $ 7.6 billion TAPI gas pipeline project, meanwhile, the first gas flow is expected in 2016, where Pakistan will receive 1,325 Mmcfd of gas, double to that of the IP project.

Read more:

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 19, 2012 at 9:15am

Here's a Daily Times Op Ed on oil and gas reserves in Balochistan:

Khattan oil would be more valuable to the railway now than it was formerly. As fuel it was worth not more than 1½ times in weight to Khost coal and so could not possibly compete, but it was mainly as a possible substitute for pitch, the agglomerate used in fuel briquette manufacture, that it is to be now considered. Borings were also commenced in 1891 at Pir Koh near Spintangi, but were abandoned after they had reached a depth of 560 feet as no signs of petroleum were discovered. Gypsum occurs in considerable quantities near Khattan and Tung near Spintangi.

Another detailed, modern, scientific seismic survey was conducted in the mid-1990s, which proved the presence of tremendous gas and oil deposits across Balochistan, including the Marri Bugti areas, near the Quetta Zargoon belt. There are proven big gas fields, very good quality and at a large scale, explored near Barkhan at Jandran in the 1970s, and only require to be linked to the Dera Ghazi Khan pipeline. Oil also has been found at Kingari District Loralai and it needs to be pumped out. In Dera Bugti near Sui three more gas fields with very big deposits; all three estimated to hold about ten trillion cubic meters, have been explored very recently. According to reports, all proven explored gas is estimated to be about 20 trillion cubic meters, whereas Pakistan requires 700 million cubic feet and is clamouring to get it from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran or Qatar.

It is also reported that the cost of imported gas either from Central Asia, Iran or Qatar would be double of local available gas in Balochistan. The important point worthy of attention in any case is that if a pipeline is built to import gas from Central Asia, Iran or Qatar, it has to cross Balochistan. Now the question is, why is the local Balochistan oil and gas not extracted to meet Pakistan’s life and death energy crisis?
The reports observe that this security assessment about shifting trends in the insurgency comes with the warning that the “unthinkable situation” may worsen, which could further aggravate if the political leadership does not wake up to the situation. One high security official in the briefing realises, “Balochistan is no longer a local issue. It has acquired the international limelight.” Now the main question is, whose is the policy failure in Balochistan, politicians or the use of force? If at all the political leadership wakes up to the situation today, what options are left to them? Recently, moderate pro-federation, former chief minister Sardar Ataullah Mengal said that the Baloch are pushed to a position of no return. In this background, the basic question under discussion is how to cope with the energy crisis. In any case, exploration of local Balochistan resources or the pipeline have to be laid across thousand of miles of the Baloch land.\03\19\story_19-3-2012_pg3_4

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 23, 2012 at 4:24pm

The shale gas boom in the US has led to a big drop in its carbon emissions, as power generators switch from coal to cheap gas, reports Financial Times:

According to the International Energy Agency, US energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, fell by 450m tonnes over the past five years – the largest drop among all countries surveyed.

Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist, attributed the fall to improvements in fuel efficiency in the transport sector and a “major shift” from coal to gas in the power sector. “This is a success story based on a combination of policy and technology – policy driving greater efficiency and technology making shale gas production viable,” Mr Birol told the Financial Times.

Shale gas has transformed the US energy landscape, with surging production pushing gas prices down to 10-year lows and heralding an industrial renaissance. But it is also the subject of a heated environmental debate, with critics alleging that the production process can pollute groundwater.

Gas is fast becoming the new fuel of choice for the US power sector: in the past 12 months, coal generation has slumped by 19 per cent while gas generation has increased by 38 per cent, according to US Department of Energy figures. A gas-fired plant produces half the CO2 emissions of a coal-fired one.

Overall, however, the IEA said 31.6 gigatonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere last year, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels – one gigatonne more than in 2010 and much higher than the average annual increase of 0.6 GT between 2006 and 2010. “The impact of this increase is going to be catastrophic,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace. “We’ve really got to act now, with a real sense of urgency – which up till now has been completely lacking.”

The increase will make it harder to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – which scientists believe is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 17, 2012 at 2:06pm

Here's an Edmonton Journal report on use of South Asian guar bean in fracking for oil & gas:

Who would have thought that an obscure bean could eat into the profits of some of North America‘s largest oil services companies?

The humble guar bean, grown primarily in India and Pakistan, has shot to instant fame in oil markets as it is a crucial ingredient in fracking fluid mixtures used to blast natural gas and oil out of shale rock.

“Shortages of guar beans, an essential component in the shale gas ‘fracking’ process, have resulted in huge price hikes for the commodity in 2012,” said risk consultancy Maplecroft in a 70-page report. “This has hit the profits of oil and gas companies hard and a search is under way to find supply chain alternatives, such as direct farm contracts and man-made substances.”

In India, the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) banned trading of guar future on March 21 after prices rallied nine-fold to a record US$1,680 per 100 kilograms, according to Bloomberg data. But for now shale gas producers remain highly dependent on guar gum from India and Pakistan, which exposes them to significant supply chain risks.

In June, Halliburton Co., the world’s largest provider of fracking service warned that it expects to see lower second-quarter margins due to rising guar costs.

“Everybody’s struggling for guar,” Halliburton Chief Financial Officer Mark McCollum told an investor conference. “We’re aware that there are some of our primary competitors missing jobs because of the unavailability of guar.”

Calgary-based Trican Wells Services also reported on July 4 that its bottomline would be directly hit by the elusive and expensive bean.

“Average guar costs increased sequentially in the second quarter and we were largely unable to pass these costs on to our customers due to the competitive pricing environment,” the company said, explaining its larger-than-expected estimated loss of $24-million to $34-million.

But the inventive oil service companies are already looking for guar substitutes. Trican, for example, is looking to introduce a new hybrid fluid system that will reduce its guar usage.

“We have started to see a reduction in guar prices and we expect guar prices to continue to decrease throughout the remainder of 2012 as a result of the development of hybrid systems and guar substitutes, and the new guar crop that is expected to increase supply later in 2012.”

There may be other good reasons for services companies to move away from the bean.

India and Pakistan dominate global production and processing of guar, with India accounting for an estimated 80% of production and Pakistan a further 15%, but sourcing guar from both countries is beset with a range of risks, notes Maplecroft. Labour violations, corruption, a lack of regulation and environmental risks as factors within these countries that can not only impact the price of guar, but also expose oil and gas companies to legal and reputational risks, as they try to secure stable supplies, said the risk consultancy....

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 19, 2012 at 8:21am

New gas discovery in Pakistan, according to Businessweek:

Italy’s largest oil company, reported a natural gasdiscovery in Pakistan, a country where reserves have been in decline.

The find was made 350 kilometers (269 miles) north of Karachi in the Khirtar Fold Belt region. The well was drilled in the Badhra Area B block to a depth of 2,450 meters, Eni said in a statement today.

Eni said the size of the discovery was probably 300 billion to 400 billion cubic feet of gas in place. Pakistan’s total gas reserves were 27.5 trillion cubic feet at the end of 2011, down 5.5 percent from a year earlier, according to BP Plc (BP/)’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

The discovery is 20 kilometers east of Eni’s Bhit gas processing facility and the company said it has already started discussions with the Pakistani regulator to speed up the production from the discovery. The company produced approximately 54,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2011 in Pakistan, making the Rome-based explorer the country’s largest producer.

“The drilling of Badhra North B-1 is part of Eni’s new strategy in Pakistan which aims to refocus exploration activities in the neighboring areas to productive fields,” the company said.

The Badhra block is operated by Eni, with a 40 percent stake in the project, Premier Oil Plc (PMO), which has 6 percent, Kufpec Pakistan Ltd. with 34 percent and Oil & Gas Development (OGDC) Company Ltd., which has 20 percent.

Premier Oil’s shares rose as much as 3.2 percent, to 391.4 pence. They were trading at 383.5 pence as of 9:56 a.m. London time. Eni SpA’s shares were up 0.7 percent at 18.42 euros after reaching a high of 18.56 euros.


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