ISLAMABAD (PPI) - The government has announced the new petroleum policy, focusing on accelerating the oil and gas exploration and production activities in the country. Unveiling the policy at a Press conference here on Thursday, the Advisor on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain said the new policy was aimed at tapping the natural resources to ensure energy security and fulfil the future energy requirements of the country. He said the main thrust of the policy was to meet the challenges of the energy demand in the country, encouraging foreign direct investment and also promoting local participation in the sector. He said under this policy incentives would be given to the local and foreign investors to make the country self sufficient in this sector within next four years. Dr Hussain said efforts would be made to utilise the experience of foreign companies to explore more oil and gas by working on maximum exploratory wells. He said under the new policy the investors would be offered higher prices up to four dollars per barrel as their share in exploration of crude oil to attract more investment in this sector. He said under the policy stringent criteria for pre-qualification of the exploration and production companies has been simplified. Besides the discount during extended well test phase has also been reduced from fifteen percent to ten percent to encourage the companies for early production. Dr Hussain said the government would encourage the local investment into the energy sector and they would be required to enter into agreements with the foreign companies or engage a high calibre technical and management team capable to exploit hydrocarbon resources to its full potential. The Petroleum Advisor said the country has huge oil and gas resources but unfortunately these had not yet been taped and special emphasis had been laid in thhe new policy to explore the resources. The country is currently producing 64,000 barrel of oil daily while the production of the gas stands at 3.9 MMCF. He said under the new policy exploration work would be launched on over 250 blocks out of 350 to discover oil and gas and for this purpose one hundred new licenses are under process with the government. He said the new policy has been prepared in consultation with all the stakeholders to make it more workable keeping in view the failure of the last policy of 2007 under which no new investment was made in the sector. Dr Hussain said emphasis would also be laid on importing LPG and completing two projects of LNG to enhance their availability for the consumers. Under the new policy, he said, Pakistan would also invest in other countries in the oil and gas sector. He said Pakistan petroleum limited has entered into a joint venture with a Yemeni company for undertaking work in Yemen at an estimated cost of $17.5m. To a question, he said the government would encourage the setting up of second-hand refineries in the coastal areas of Balochistan with tax holiday of seven and half years. To another question, he said despite security concerns, many foreign investors were keen to invest in oil and gas sector.