Pakistan Endorses New Oil Exploration

Pakistan Endorses New Oil Exploration

Authorities in Pakistan expect new oil and gas exploration offshore in the Arabian Sea to deliver results in 2019 as oil majors ExxonMobil and Eni begin drilling.

The Pakistan Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi welcomed efforts by multinational oil and gas firms ExxonMobil and Eni to progress exploration of a site 230 kilometers off the coast near the capital Karachi.

“Best of luck to ExxonMobil & ENI when they start drilling,” Zaidi said, adding that supply ships transporting equipment had arrived at Karachi Port Trust.


Hopes of ‘Global Discovery’

Pakistan has an estimated 9 billion barrels of petroleum oil and 105 trillion cubic feet in shale oil and natural gas reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, however much of this remains undeveloped.

In May 2018, ExxonMobil acquired a 25-percent shareholding in offshore drilling in Pakistan, with Oil and Gas Development Co., Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. and Italian energy firm Eni each also holding a quarter-share.

ExxonMobil has already drilled up to 5,000 meters near to the Iranian border and maintains a positive outlook for finding oil, with Zaidi stating that “big news” was likely of a “global discovery.”

“Pakistan is providing a level playing field to foreign investors and they are interested in coming to Pakistan. What we need to do is to meet their standards and attract them to make investment,” said Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister.


Relations Strained

While the potential for new discoveries in the Arabian Sea promises to drive breakbulk activity in the region it is also leading to increased tension, especially as relations with the U.S. remain strained.

During his first months in office, new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has sought to distance Pakistan from the U.S. and strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In December, the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency conducted training exercises involving 12 ships in the northern Arabian Sea.

Photo: Karachi port. Credit: Wikimedia