ISLAMABAD: Energy experts and lawyers, in a policy dialogue, have urged the parliament to revisit the 18th amendment to remove confusions that have been creating hindrances in oil and gas exploration for the last six years virtually halting the activities of this vital sector of the national economy.

Despite passing of six years new exploration licenses were not being issued and a number of foreign companies have either left or were on the exit phase due to the lacunas and wrangling between the federation and provinces for legislative and executive controls.

Energy lawyer Muhammad Arif was the keynote speaker at the roundtable titled “18th Constitutional Amendment: Oil and Gas – Impact on Exploration and Beyond” organized by Institute of Policy Studies. The policy forum was chaired by Mirza Hamid Hasan, former secretary, water and power, and member IPS-National Academic Council and was attended by a number of policy analysts, energy lawyers and government officials.

Arif, the keynote speaker, was of the view that in the presence of the Regulation of Mines and Oil-fields and Mineral Development (Government Control) Act of 1948, which is still intact, there has been no change constitutionally in the legislative and executive authority post-18th amendment, as being demanded by the provinces. Ownership means sharing of royalty and does not confer the legislative and executive authority, he clarified.

He also called for an effective and efficient institutional arrangement to the satisfaction of the provinces in this regard.

Hasan, in his concluding remarks, categorized the post-18th amendment issues affecting the oil and gas sector as those which were directly related to the amendment and those which were arising due to its misinterpretation or mismanagement, lack of homework and blurred vision of the concerned authorities.  

He suggested the creation of an authority that can act as an interface between the federal government and the provinces to sort out bottlenecks and confusions caused by the same.