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Major gas discovery in Marri-Bugti area

ISLAMABAD: A bit of good news for the energy-starved nation — the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) is reported to have made a major gas discovery in Zin block in Balochistan’s restive Marri-Bugti area that has the potential to change the dimension of the country’s power sector.

“The first exploration well has been a great success and we have found thick zones of hydrocarbon. It seems to be a big discovery in many years,” a jubilant authoritative source told Dawn on Friday after receiving the latest reports of the discovery.

The official said the country’s largest producer had achieved the target drilling of about 2,300 metres early this week using indigenous expertise, found hydrocarbon in Zone-1, plugged it and moved into Zone-2 where it found more resources.

He said technical results were being evaluated by experts and a formal official announcement about the discovery was expected to be made on Monday. He said it would require a couple of appraisal wells before reaching a conclusion about the size of the deposit.

In reply to a question about the possibility of low heating value of the reserve in view of adjacent low-BTU (British Thermal Unit) deposit of Uch gas field, the official said it was premature to know about the heating value unless evaluation process was complete in a day or two.

But even if it was low-BTU gas it would change the country’s energy dimension because huge power plants could be installed at the site for generating low-cost electricity, he added.

The official, however, said it would take about two years before Zin resources were developed for commercial use in view of the required appraisal wells and their subsequent development.

He said the OGDCL had estimates of 8-10 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves before it moved to Zin area in September last year. He expressed the hope that the reserve would be even bigger in view of the initial results and the fact that the Zin block was hemmed in by major gas discoveries.

Before starting the drilling, the government had to create a new wing of the Frontier Constabulary of about 500-600 personnel to provide security to the OGDCL operations because the untapped area was surrounded by major gas producing fields — Pirkoh, Loti, Sui and Uch.

The first commercial gas flows from the field is expected in early 2013.

The OGDCL had to shelve a plan to transfer ownership rights of the Zin block to a private company through a controversial deal after Dawn raised questions over the way it was being ‘formed out’ in unusual circumstances on the grounds of adverse security situation.

The government had at that time criticised the OGDCL for lack of progress in the area and threatened to terminate its licence.