ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet is likely to give go-ahead to the Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry, desperately seeking multi-million dollars investment, for exploration of oil and gas in Iraq today. “At a time when people are bearing the brunt of worsening energy crisis, the ministry has desperately sought the federal cabinet’s nod through a summary of $10 million investment by the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) for new oil and gas discoveries in Iraq,” according to sources. The government gurus successfully managed lobbying for the cabinet’s approval after taking a decision on the matter, added the sources.They went on: “The final round of bidding is likely in the next month in Iraq from where 46 companies are expected to participate in, including the PPL that had earlier succeeded in securing pre-qualification in initial process.” Various Chinese and Indian firms are already deeply engaged in the oil and gas sector of Iraq, especially in discoveries and production. The sources added that the PPL had so far successfully established a consortium with a Chinese company, ZhenHua Oil Co Ltd, in a bid to discover new oil and gas reserves in Iraq.It is also learnt that the PPL would expectedly earn back its investment within a period of three years. The PPL is bound to send its profit back to Pakistan that it will earn with the production of oil and gas in Iraq. The Pakistani government is the owner of 71 per cent share of the PPL. Iraq, having third largest reservoirs of oil and gas in the world, had greatly attracted foreign companies with lucrative incentives while strictly acting upon its policy to ensure more investment in its oil and gas sector if compared to Pakistan’s hard work till this effect, sources opined. Sources in OGDCL have disclosed that currently the ratio of well hit in Pakistan is one if worked on four discoveries. Last year this ratio of well hit was increased and reached two out of four discoveries which has so far greatly attracted local and foreign companies to invest in oil and gas sector of the country, they added. When contacted, experts said that though Pakistan is rich in oil and gas reserves, the government has shown no interest in investing in the sector. But, foreign companies have been investing in oil and gas discoveries.“This move initiated by the top guns of Petroleum Ministry in connivance with the high-ups of PPL is apparently irrational, and could not be understandable at a time when the people are facing unprecedented hike in fuel prices and worsening energy crisis.” The government will either approach international financial institutions (IFIs) or rely on bank borrowing for the purpose. About solutions to the energy problem, they said sufficient funds must be allocated in the forthcoming budget for energy projects.Similarly, the govt should allocate more funds for tapping Thar coal potential and strive hard to attract foreign investors by offering lucrative incentives to invest in the energy projects.