New Delhi (Sputnik) — Amid reports of an acute gas shortage across Pakistan, the government has initiated a number of moves aimed at attracting more foreign investment in the energy sector. Nadeem Babar, head of Prime Minister Imran Khan's Task Force on Energy Reforms, told Reuters the government was amending its natural gas regulation and drawing up its first-ever shale gas policy, with licensing rounds to follow later this year.
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"The government hopes improving security in recent years and the country's extensive pipeline network will attract investors. More than 30 onshore gas blocks have been identified and the government plans to auction a large chunk of them in one or two licensing rounds by the end of 2019", Babar told Reuters.
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Along with foreign companies, local companies have also been asked to beef up their production capabilities to meet the growing demand.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the local companies to expedite their exploration work in the oil and gas sectors. pic.twitter.com/guKuBQ5vIR
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Much of mineral-rich Pakistan remains unexplored, despite gas discoveries dating back to the 1950s. Conventional gas reserves are estimated at 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf), or 560 billion cubic metres, and shale gas reserves, which are untouched, at more than 100 tcf, the report said.
Pakistan's domestic gas output has plateaued in the last five years, falling to 1.46 trillion cubic feet in 2017/18, from 1.51 trillion cubic feet in 2012/2013, the report says.
To help plug the deficit, Pakistan has built two liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals, and demand is expected to hit 6.97 billion cubic feet a day for 2018/19, and 7.06 billion cubic feet a day in 2019/20. But LNG is expensive, so Islamabad wants foreign companies to ramp up domestic exploration.