ISLAMABAD - The government is likely to reduce the prices of petroleum products by Rs 5 per litre for the month of February. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Thursday indicated at the possibility of Rs 5 per litre reduction in the prices of petroleum products for February. “According to my personal assessment, the rates of petroleum products will reduce by around Rs 5,” the minister said in reply to a query raised by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources. However, the minister said that it (price) is not final as final decision will be that of OGRA, which will move a summary in this regard to the government today (Friday). OGRA determines the rates of petroleum products on monthly basis and recommends upward or downward revision to the government.

Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources met under the chairmanship of Ch Bilal Ahmad Virk, MNA in Parliament House and discussed the agenda pertaining to Oil and Gas Development Corporation Limited (OGDCL). The Committee directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to provide details of the cases related to the Ministry and its attached departments presently being investigated by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and their current status. The Committee also directed the Ministry to present the details of the Directors on OGDCL Board and criteria of their appointment before the Committee in its next meeting.

On the prices of petroleum products, the federal minister further said that Pakistan was leading country among oil importing states that had reduced prices of the petroleum products after the decline in crude oil prices in international market. He said the government reduced prices by Rs 40 per liter since the downward trend in the crude prices started. The maximum benefit of low oil prices was being passed on to the common man, he claimed.

Comparing with other South Asian countries, the minister said that petrol price in Pakistan is Rs 76 while in India it is Rs 96 and in Bangladesh it is Rs 125.

While discussing the details of performance of OGDCL in terms of gas and oil exploration, the Committee sought a comparative statement of expenditure incurred on rigs owned by OGDCL and leased/rented from private companies. The Committee was of the view that rigs leased/rented from contractors seemed to be more cost effective as compared to the rigs owned by OGDCL. Managing Director OGDCL Zahid Mir briefed the committee on number of rigs owned by the company and their performance in terms of exploration and production of oil and gas.

Zahid said that the company had seven own rigs and it was not in favor of buying more as per international practice of getting the job done from contractor rigs, citing increased expenses of their maintenance. He said OGDCL’s rigs had the capacity to drill in 2,500 to 5,500 meters deep and usually they were deployed in sensitive areas where contractors were not allowed to operate. He said that rigs owned by the Corporation were aged and less efficient when compared to latest private rigs. The MD, OGDCL, assured that requisite information would be submitted to the committee. He also apprised the committee about the ongoing oil and gas exploration activities and number of successful discoveries.

Khaqan Abbasi said that the country was facing severe shortage of gas especially in the winter season and the government was bridging the gap between demand and supply of the commodity through load management in Punjab. The meeting was attended by MNAs Malik Ihtebar Khan, Muhammad Afzal Khokar Mian Tariq Mehmood, Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Rasheed Ahmad Khan Ch. Javaid Iqbal Warraich,, Nawab Ali Wasan, Nasir Khan Khattak, Abdul Waseem, Sajid Ahmad, Pir Bux Junejo, Additional Secretary Ministry of Petroleum, Managing Director (OGDCL) and other officers of the concerned departments.