Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has planned to start drilling activities in potential areas of Sindh in December this year for the exploration of shale gas and oil deposits identified almost five years ago.
A senior official said that the company is working to drill the first-ever unconventional shale gas well in December at a fast track. Following this, the company is also planning to carry out back-to-back drilling at nine more shale wells, the official said.
A study completed in collaboration with the US Agency for International Development, covering the lower and middle Indus Basin, had identified massive shale gas and oil reserves in 2015. The report confirmed the presence of 10,159 trillion cubic feet (TCF) shale gas and 2,323 billion of stock tank barrels (BSTB) shale oil in place resources.
After identification of the deposits, a task had been given to OGDCL and Pakistan Petroleum Limited to undertake pilot projects in potential areas to assess the cost of extracting shale gas and oil, delayed due to certain reasons.
According to the study, there are 188TCF gas and 58 BSTB oil technically recoverable resources, while the risked technically recoverable resources stand at 95TCF gas and 14 BSTB oil. The study covered the lower and middle Indus Basin, which geographically spreads over Sindh, southern parts of Punjab and eastern parts of Balochistan.
The total area under the study was 271,700km, which is 33 percent of the total sedimentary area of the country. During the study, a detailed analysis of 124 wells was carried out, including laboratory analysis on shale cores and cuttings in the US.
The objectives of the study were to validate shale gas resource estimate, initial findings, assess the availability of required technology and infrastructure for shale gas operations and formulate guidelines for the gas policy. Following the identification, a dedicated shale gas and oil center had been established at the Petroleum House to facilitate interested exploration and production companies to exploit the potential.
Also, the official data showed that the oil and gas exploration and production companies, operating in different hydrocarbon potential areas of the country, have made around 110 discoveries during the last five years, with accumulative initial flow rate of 30,383 barrel per day (BPD) oil and 926.6 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) gas.
The companies found 83 oil and gas deposits in Sindh, 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 in Punjab and two in Balochistan during the period from July 2014 to October 2019, the data showed. Over two dozen companies have spent around Rs400 billion in carrying out activities to increase the national hydrocarbon base from 2013-14 to 2017-18.
A senior official said that the government is pursuing a prudent strategy to step up oil and gas exploration activities in potential areas. Under which, the Petroleum Division of the Energy Ministry is planning to initiate the open bidding process for 35-40 newly-identified exploration blocks in December this year.
He said that the government had awarded five new exploration blocks through a bidding process. He said that the government had made some policy changes to facilitate new companies in the sector, abolishing 10 unnecessary steps, out of 24-30, required for getting approval to start drilling activities in potential areas.
Currently, the country’s total sedimentary area is around 827,268 square kilometers, out of which 320, 741km is under exploration. Quoting a recent study about the fast depletion of existing hydrocarbon reservoirs, he feared that the deposits would further deplete by 60 percent by 2027 and underlined the need for accelerating exploration activities in potential areas.