Atif Khan
ISLAMABAD - Contrary to the government’s claim of LNG import by November, sole bidder has yet to obtain prerequisites to the construction of LNG terminal that alone takes, at least, 11 months.
Background interviews have revealed that the Elengy Terminal Private Limited (ETPL), a subsidiary of Engro Corporation Pakistan has not obtained two major perquisites to applying for terminal construction licences namely the approval of the port concerned that is Port Qasim in this case and an NOC of the Ministry of Defense. ETPL has yet to obtain commencement of business certificate from Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan. According to well-placed sources in the Petroleum Ministry, the SECP’s commencement of business certificate is required to get an LNG terminal construction licence from the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). According to insiders another hurdle which can result in more delays is from Port Qasim authorities over location. Port Qasim authorities believe that ETPL should move to place designated for LNG instead of proposed place which is already crowded with chemicals and other high explosive materials.
It was learnt that studies submitted by ETPL to Ogra were done in 2011. As per law, company needs fresh studies, this could result in more delays. Ogra is processing the application by ETPL for the grant of licence to undertake regulated activities related to liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Port Qasim. In this regard Ogra held a public hearing this week in Karachi. The regulatory body has yet to announce the result of that hearing.  Interveners believe Ogra is processing ETPL incomplete application on political pressure. They have gone even further for the want of greater transparency in objecting the OGRA accepting the application in the first place as in complete. “OGRA is violating laws by processing ETPL application on incomplete documents’, says Yasir Masood Dogar, one of the six opponents who attended both public hearings meeting. It was pre-decided by government that project will be awarded to ETPL and OGRA is doing all these violations of law and LNG Policy 2011 under government pressure, he accused.
Yasir is set to move contempt of court application as Supreme Court has already directed concerned departments to observe transparency in the whole LNG import process.
Yasir demand that Ogra should return ETPL incomplete application and should start the whole process afresh. Ex-Engro Corporation chief Asad Umar is of the same opinion. He said government haste in importing LNG is understandable in present energy crisis but it should not be on cost of transparency. Referring to recent statement of Petroleum minister that LNG prices have to be decided Asad said that without fixing prices government gave this long term project to a foreign company, now government have no bargaining power over prices and importing costly LNG will not do any good to energy crisis or country. OGRA plainly rejected all allegations. “Entire process is as per law, impression of any pressure on OGRA is untrue, OGRA is carrying out legal process transparent and it conducted a public hearing in Karachi recently, Spokesperson OGRA told TheNation. Answering a question about the fate of recent hearing he said that decision will be announced in due course of time.