PTI govt unveils roadmap for investment in petroleum sector

SAPM says working on a two-pronged strategy to introduce ease-of-doing-business plan


​ Our Correspondent August 30, 2019
PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Petroleum Nadeem Babar on Thursday shared the government's roadmap for ease-of-doing-business in the petroleum sector, removing red-tapism in getting approval for investment and advancements in different fields.

“A detailed briefing has been given to Prime Minister Imran Khan about the measures being taken to make the petroleum sector vibrant and attractive for investors,” Babar said while addressing media along with Minister for Power Umar Ayub Khan and SAPM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.

“Unfortunately, during the last 10-20 years efforts have not been made to resolve the problems. Rather new laws and regulations were introduced for temporary solution of the issues, which in the long-run created hurdles in smooth petroleum sector activities,” he added.

He said the Petroleum Division, as per the vision of PM, has devised a ‘prudent’ strategy, which would help attract local and foreign investments. "Increased investment will ultimately create more and more job opportunities."

Babar said the division is working on a two-pronged strategy to bring policy reforms and introduce ease-of-doing-business plan. The policy reforms, he said, would take some time as they need formal approval from the quarters concerned, while ease-of-doing-business strategy could be implemented instantly.

“Under the strategy, new players would come in the petroleum sector and the inefficient would have to quit. An environment of competition would be ensured, ending the monopoly of individuals,” he added.

Babar said the petroleum sector has been divided into five key areas – oil and gas exploration and production (E&P), refining and marketing, pipelines and gas distribution, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

He said some policy changes have been made to facilitate new companies in the E&P sector, abolishing 10 unnecessary steps, out of 24-30, required for getting approval for drilling activities in potential areas.

“There will be a certain time limit for approval at each step, and if no response is given, the case will be moved to the next stage automatically,” he added.

Nadeem Babar said as many as 27 new exploration blocks have been identified after conducting a detailed survey in potential areas of hydrocarbon reserves, for which international auction process would be initiated in December this year and completed in three rounds.

Besides, he said, there are some small and old fields from where E&P companies had stopped extracting gas due to high cost. “Now the government has planned to give incentives in this area so that domestic production of the gas could be increased to some extent instead of importing LNG at higher rate.”

In the refining and marketing sector, he said, there are some 17-25 steps to set up a petrol station. Out of which, only six to seven steps including approval from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and concerned explosive department were necessary.

“The steps have been brought down from 14-19 to 5-6 to set up oil storage facilities in different areas.”

He said three oil refineries, out of five existing facilities, are inefficient, and the government has announced a 10-year tax exemption for them to increase their capacity. The given concession would also be applicable for new deep conversion oil refineries, he added.

Commenting on gas pipelines and distribution system, Nadeem Babar said mechanism of utility bills' payment is being revamped. Under which, the issued bill would be delivered to consumers within 48 hours with a time-limit of 15 days to deposit it.

“This system has been agreed, in principle but would take one to two months for implementation. Mobile App and Web Portal would be launched to facilitate gas consumes to lodge their complaints, which could be operated using consumer identity number,” he added.

In September, he said, a campaign would be launched to create awareness among consumers about conservation of gas and avoid excessive billing during the peak winter season.

“The consumers will be educated that a geyser and heater consumes how much gas during 24 hours. The citizens would be helped in installing efficient appliances and equipment to save the commodity,” he added.

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