Pakistan has failed to find any oil and gas reserves off the shore of the country even in its 17th attempt. Earlier, Italian firm ENI started drilling in a joint venture with US giant ExxonMobil and the Pakistan state-owned Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL). Each of the four firms has a 25% participating interest in the block.
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“No reserves were discovered after drilling up to over 5,000 metres,” a senior government official told The The media
He added that Dutch firm Shell had also carried out offshore drilling 10 years ago but failed to find hydrocarbon reserves. The official said the ENI, in partnership with other companies, had invested around $100 million and predicted a 13% success rate during drilling.
However, the official noted that India had found offshore reserves after 40 attempts. “Therefore, Pakistan should continue its efforts because there is a long area where the presence of reserves is expected,” he added.
The drilling was carried out in ultra-deep waters some 280 kilometres away from the Karachi coast. The well was spudded on January 13 this year, targeting a carbonate reservoir with a prognosed total depth of 5,660 metres.
Some surveyors had found the block ‘Indus-G’ similar to the Indian offshore Bombay High oilfield, which produces 350,000 barrels per day of crude oil, while others described it as similar to the ones in the oil- and gas-rich Kuwait.
The Exxon Mobil Corporation, through the ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Pakistan, had acquired a 25% participating interest in the Indus-G Block in May 2018.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar confirmed that no reserves had been found. He added that the office of the Petroleum Concessions DG had been informed about the results of the drilling.
“Drilling was carried out up to a depth of more than 5,500 meters in Indus-G block.”
In recent months, the government had repeatedly pinned its hopes on the discovery of the reserves, and many citizens were sure of a change in fortunes for the country. In March this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that the nation should expect “good news” soon, hinting at the possibility of discovering major offshore oil reserves.
In an interaction with journalists, the premier said the offshore drilling off the coast of Karachi was in its final stages and there could be a major find. “We should all pray that Pakistan gets this natural resource in substantial quantity,” he added.
A few days ago, Federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi had also raised hopes expressing his optimism about finding the reserves He said a pressure signal had released at the depth of 5,474 meters during drilling and that was a “positive sign”.
“Pressure was released at different locations during drilling which is good news and blowout pre-vendor caps have been installed there,” he added.
Exploration in the Indus offshore dates back to the 1960s when the Sun Oil Company of the US drilled three wells. Later, Wintershall of Germany, Husky of Canada, Occidental of the US, Petro Canada, Total of France, Shell of the Netherlands and Eni of Italy also drilled wells in the Indus offshore.
So far 16 wells have been drilled in the area. Some of them fell short of their target because of technical issues while others reported quantities of non-commercial gas.