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Govt asked to give priority to Punjab in shale gas exploration

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday asked the government to give priority to Punjab for exploitation of shale gas deposits as the province is the worst-hit by gas shortage. Farooq Iftikhar, president of the LCCI, in a statement, said that the Cabinet’s approval to the policy framework for exploitation of 51 trillion cubic feet (TCF) shale gas deposits would help overcome shortage provided the pilot projects are initiated without any further delay. Since shale gas exploration is highly capital intensive and requires high level of technological expertise, the private sector representatives should also be included in the shale gas project committee formed by the Federal Cabinet for its timely execution, he said. Iftikhar expressed the hope that shale gas project would revolutionise the sector as it would be of great help in the revival of oil wells that had been exhausted long ago. Although the government has extracted oil from these wells, still a lot of shale gas exists in hard form in these wells, he said. The LCCI president, however, expressed resentment over Dr Asim Hussain, adviser to the prime minister on petroleum and natural resources, for asking the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to pass on to the consumers Rs11 billion financial impact of gas theft. He said that the Ogra Act has no such provision and only allows recovery of prudent cost of gas supply from the consumers; therefore, the business community is unable to understand the logic behind the proposal that would lead to massive unrest and closure of a large number of businesses. The LCCI president also appreciated the government for handing over the Gwadar Port to China Overseas Port Holding Company and termed it the biggest-ever decision to promote economic activities in the region as it would result in foreign direct investment of $750 million initially and help establish seven industrial zones in Balochistan.

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