Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was quoted by local media outlet Dawn as saying that "there's a strong possibility that we may discover a very big (oil) reserve in our waters". If his prediction comes true, the discovery will help the South Asian country tackle its economic problems.
With Pakistan's economy in the doldrums, the cash-strapped country may have a more urgent need for foreign investment if massive oil reserves are indeed discovered. According to Dawn, US oil giant Exxon Mobil and Italy's ENI have been involved in drilling an ultra-deep oil well since January.
China has sound cooperation with Pakistan on energy matters. A big oil find would stimulate investment enthusiasm among Chinese companies. China is willing to support Pakistan's efforts to seize the development opportunity such a find might bring, and handle any challenges.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was originally conceived as a strategic project with oil and gas pipeline links between Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Pakistan's Gwadar port. If Pakistan discovers massive oil reserves that will be a motivation to extend Pakistan's pipeline network further into Iran and India, and also to enhance energy cooperation with Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia.
Not only China but also the whole region will benefit from economic integration through energy connectivity. Using those reserves will likely result in large cross-border capital flows, infrastructure investment, energy trades, and people-to-people exchanges. The region will see the development and utilisation of oil reserves as a pillar of economic integration and stability.
The geopolitical picture in Asia has long been complex and uneven, but Pakistan's potential oil reserves are likely be a game-changer for the region, with economic cooperation in energy. Hopefully India and Gulf nations won't ignore the opportunities to enhance energy cooperation with Pakistan and help fostering an energy network in Asia.
This article was originally published in Global Times.