LAHORE - The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has urged the government to speedup work on exploration of Shale gas deposits as it would not only help solve the issue of energy shortage but would also reduce oil import bill which is one of the biggest reasons of trade deficit.

In a statement issued here Tuesday, the LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed said that in United States, Shale gas is rapidly increasing as an available source of natural gas and reducing their dependence on energy import.

They said that approval of Shale Gas Policy Framework from the Cabinet in 2013 was a major initiative towards revival of industry and the business community was optimistic that government will chalk out a timeframe for the early completion of this pilot project and will not let it fall prey to bureaucratic hurdles but no major progress has been yet been witnessed.

The LCCI office-bearers asked the federal government to give priority to Punjab for exploitation of Shale gas deposits and take private sector on board for early execution of this important project.

They said that since long, the LCCI had been pressing the government to tap other energy resources instead of depending on conventional gas reserves that had been depleting fast. They said that the Shale gas exploration is highly capital intensive and requires high level of technological expertise, private sector representatives should also be included in the project committee formed by the federal cabinet for its execution at the earliest.

The LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad also showed concern over repeated increases in gas prices. He said that gas is a major raw material for many industries and repeated increases in its prices will harm the growth of manufacturing sector.

“Trade & Industry is already in deep trouble because of delay in refund claims, high cost of doing business and withholding tax while increase in the gas tariff would add their miseries”, Sheikh Muhammad Arshad said.

LCCI President said that instead of making undue raises in the gas prices, government should accelerate exploration of new gas reserves and complete Shale gas project as soon as possible.