Islamabad - In stark violation of concerned rules, a blue-eyed appointee at a top post in the Petroleum Ministry while serving mighty vested interests of a Kuwaiti enterprise had awarded an oil and gas exploration licence worth millions of dollars.

Sources in petroleum ministry told that a foreign firm named Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC), a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC) had successfully got million-dollars worth oil and gas exploration licence of 2467-14 Jati block allegedly in connivance with the influential high-ups of petroleum ministry.

The DG PC while setting aside relevant rules and regulations had signed the exploration licence and the Petroleum Concession Agreement in a well-attended ceremony on October 12, 2012 ostensibly to serve the vested interests. And, the Kuwaiti firm instead of participating in the bids won the contract in the presence of former Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum & Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain.

Ironically, the tale of benefiting the Kuwaiti firm by high-ups of petroleum & natural resources ministry did not end here as the outgoing government while making sheer mockery of rules and procedures had also signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the favourite firm prior to the issuance of said licence that actually requires approval of the federal cabinet. In this way, violation of necessary rules and regulations were committed earlier in the signing of MoU and later in the award of exploration licence, informed sources said on Tuesday.

They said that though the approved petroleum policy 2012 was effective in the country at the time of issuing that licence to the said foreign firm yet the licence was issued desperately under the petroleum policy 2009 ostensibly because DG PC could not formulate necessary rules. Necessary rules could not prepare despite passing many months even after the approval of petroleum policy 2012, they added.

Sources in petroleum ministry while telling about the strategy under which award of licence was ensured also said that it was pre-planned that when rules of the petroleum policy 2012 would be prepared then this licence would be shifted from Petroleum policy 2009 to petroleum policy 2012 and the Kuwaiti firm would get the gas tariff by $3 instead of $6.

So far the government had allocated only two blocks- Jati & Bashka - to a Chinese firm Zenhua on government-to-government basis. And, the then government before allocating these blocks had obtained the approval of federal cabinet in 2007 and the Law Division had vet the deal. More, the Chinese firm had submitted a work plan of investing $21 million while the Kuwaiti firm submitted a work plan to invest only $15 million.

It is also said that Director General Petroleum Concessions Qazi Muhammad Saleem had ostensibly not only violated the 18th amendment by not giving due representation to the Sindh province while signing of concerned from Sindh government was necessary but also did not bother to get the agreement/ contract vet from the Law Division.

Informed sources also deplored that in the presence of director general (oil) Muhammad Azam and a senior director production Malik Amjad, top guns at the petroleum ministry had given promotion to a junior official Qazi Muhammad Saleem from a Director-to-Director General level lucrative slot on temporary basis under a contingency plan only to accomplish long pending million dollars worth projects. Qazi was given priority while setting aside ESTA code despite the presence of competent officials in the ministry. In such circumstance, panic among senior officials is aggravating with each passing day, as a junior official had been keeping the senior officials under his supervision for a long time and would now also write annual confidential report (ACR) of senior officials.

All attempts to develop contact with Secretary Petroleum Abid Saeed to get his version on the matter could not bore any fruit.