Dubai: Pakistan will announce the discovery of massive oil and gas reserves in the next three weeks, said an official.

A consortium of four leading companies led by US-based ExxonMobil, which has started drilling in ultra-deep waters offshore Karachi, is likely to submit its report by April, Pakistan’s official news agency APP reported on Thursday.

The consortium has claimed it has discovered massive oil and gas reserves offshore Indus G-Block called Kekra-I some 230-km off the Karachi coast.

Gulf News earlier reported that the location of the reserves is near Iran borders. On Monday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had also hinted at finding ‘massive’ oil reserves off the coast of Karachi.

He said he would soon share good news with the nation. He had said Pakistan would not need to import oil after the offshore reserves are found.

“Steady drilling is in progress and there are ‘good symptoms’ about the success of the project. Currently, more than 4,000 metres of vertical drilling has been completed. Drilling is under way horizontally against the target of around 5,500 metres,” the official said.

Experts believe that there are huge hydrocarbon deposits, sufficient for the country’s needs for 25 to 30 years. The energy scarce nation is anxiously waiting for good news.

What we know so far

The official said exploration activity is continuing round-the-clock by a highly skilled team of more than 200 professionals with periodical tests of specimens conducted after almost every 1,000-metre drill.

The well’s diameter is 18 to 24 inches and companies had set the target depth of 5,500 metres, the official said, adding that the discovery is anticipated to yield gas flows which could be ‘as big as Sui field’. Estimated reserves are three to eight trillion cubic feet (TCF), or 25-40 per cent of the country’s total gas reserves.

The official said the country is in dire need of a big discovery as existing hydrocarbon reserves are depleting fast and its reliance on imported gas and oil is increasing with each passing day.

How will this help Pakistan?

According to data of a recent study, existing deposits in Pakistan will further deplete 60 per cent by the year 2027. It underlined the need to step up exploration in potential areas on a war-footing.

The offshore drilling is a joint venture of ENI, Exxon Mobil, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited and Pakistan Petroleum Limited. In December 2018, Exxon Mobil had announced that it would reinvest in the Pakistani market after a gap of nearly three decades.

According to media reports, if oil deposits are discovered as expected, Pakistan will be among top 10 oil-producing countries.

Pakistan currently meets only 15 per cent of its domestic petroleum needs with crude oil production of around 22 million tons; the other 85 per cent is met through imports.

The country is facing a huge current account deficit of up to $18 billion and is spending a substantial amount of foreign exchange reserves on import of oil. The import bill of Pakistan rose by to $12.928 billion in the July-May 2017-18 period of the last fiscal year.

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