ISLAMABAD (APP) - Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Wednesday government accords high priority to investment in the oil and gas sectors, and assured foreign investors effective security conditions and an enabling environment. Addressing a ceremony here at the PM Secretariat to mark the inauguration of a central processing facility set up at Manzalai in NWFP, the Prime Minister said there was a need to focus and develop oil and gas reserves in Pakistan as the country currently has to rely on expensive imported energy. Our government has given high priority to investment in the oil and gas sector, Gilani said. He said the new petroleum policy announced earlier this year reflects desire of the government to encourage foreign investors in the energy sector. We realize that in order to make this sector attractive for the foreign companies, we have to increase the competitiveness of our terms of investment in the upstream sector. Prime Minister Gilani said today Pakistan was faced with many challenges caused by both external as well as internal factors. But I assure you that the government is fully committed to handle these issues and provide security to the areas where key strategic assets like gas fields and plants are located. We have a responsibility to provide foreign investment a secure environment, enabling them to take full benefit of governments investor-friendly policies, the prime minister said. Prime Minister Gilani said production from the Manzalai Central Processing Facility will help the NWFP government receive more gas royalty. He said it will boost their resources, allowing them to spend more on the social sector. He hoped the NWFP government will undertake more initiatives to invest this money back into the area from where oil and gas was being produced. Gilani termed the inauguration of the Manzalai Central Processing Facility as a very important step towards energy self sufficiency and expressed the hope that with the start of supply from this facility, the national transmission system of natural gas will get a big boost. He expressed the confidence that start of production activities in the relatively less developed areas of NWFP will open up new opportunities for the local communities to benefit from this economic activity. This will help the areas to become part of the organized economy of the country. He said injection of natural gas supply in the national system from a field in the NWFP will mean lower transmission costs to the north of the country. He expressed satisfaction that the operators of Tal Block Joint Venture have employed a large number of locals in their project. I always believe that Pakistan is blessed with a capable human resource pool. If given an opportunity, they can show their worth and help the foreign companies working here to achieve their business objectives, he added. Prime Minister Gilani also appreciated that the joint venture partners had initiated some important social uplift projects in the area and hoped that they would invest more in the area. Gilani noted that MOL Pakistan, as the operator of a joint venture, has worked in an area that may appear volatile to many, but their success will encourage other foreign companies to come forward and invest in other sectors in Pakistan, thus generating economic activity and creating employment opportunities. We also intend to improve the economic climate in the NWFP by launching new infrastructure projects, the prime minister said. He said the construction of a new bridge on the Indus river to relieve the pressure on the existing Khushal Garh bridge was of prime importance. This will enhance accessibility of NWFP to other parts of Pakistan, he added. He congratulated the MOL Group and its partners OGDCL, PPL, GHPL and POL Tal Joint Venture partners and expressed the hope that they would continue investing in the energy sector of Pakistan. I assure that the present government will extend full support to the investors entering into joint venture in this sector. We look forward and expect more similar initiatives in the near future, the prime minister said. Federal Minister for Petroleum Syed Naveed Qamar said the exploration of natural gas would help the country overcome its energy challenges. He said the government was fully cognizant of utilizing the potential of energy resources in the country and would encourage foreign investors in this regard. CEO MOL Group Gyorgy Monsonyi said the inauguration of new gas facility was the fruits of well-coordinated efforts that would bring development in the country. Ambassador of Hungary Istvan Darvasi said the government of Hungary was ready to extend potential support to Pakistan in carrying out work on energy. He appreciated Pakistans role in fight against terrorism and efforts for democratic transition. The event was also attended by Chief Minister NWFP Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and parliamentarians. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said the government was committed to ensuring a foolproof security environment for foreign investors in Pakistan. Talking to a Hungarian delegation led by Gyorgy Mosonyi, CEO, MOL Group here at the PM Secretariat, he said the government was encouraging them to invest more in the energy sector. He said the new petroleum policy announced earlier this year reflects the governments desire to encourage foreign investors in the energy sector and various incentives are being given to both local and foreign investors to benefit from the investor-friendly policies of the government. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan is blessed with immense energy resources including coal and hydel power. He lauded the contribution of MOL Group in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Pakistan and congratulated them on the inauguration of Manzalai CPF facility. The delegation informed the Prime Minister that they plan to invest more in the exploration and production of energy in Pakistan. They also said that they have employed a large number of local people in the Manzalai project.