Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the nation is on the brink of discovering a huge reserve of oil and gas in the Arabian Sea. The offshore drilling has been going on for a while, and the PM has asked the people of the country to pray that they land a major reserve, which he hopes will solve the financial crunch that Pakistan has been reeling under for a while now.
Khan made the revelation on Thursday, March 21, during an interaction with owner of a few Pakistani publications and senior journalists. He also explained that the quest for the oil reserve has been going on for a while and has now reached its final stage. The discovery may come in a matter of a few weeks.
"I implore that we all pray that Pakistan gets this natural resource in substantial quantity. Our hopes and expectations from the offshore drilling being carried out by the ExxonMobil-led consortium prove to be true," the Press Trust of India quoted Khan as saying.
"There's already been a delay of about three weeks, but if the indications we are getting from the companies are anything to go by, there's a strong possibility that we may discover a very big reserve in our waters. And if that happens, Pakistan will altogether be in a different league," he added.
However, US oil major Exxon Mobil and Italy's ENI are yet to make a comment on the drilling, which has been going in since January. The two companies are the only ones that are still carrying out the process in Pakistan's Arabian Sea — about 230km inside waters — as several other companies left the region due to militant attacks and extremism.
Meanwhile, Khan believes that if Pakistan does end up discovering the huge oil and gas reserves, things will be different for the nation and all the economic needs will be taken care of. He explained that economic and financial security for Pakistan was his top priority and his biggest challenge. He went to explain that the situation was dire when he took over as the PM, but things have improved in the last few months with the help of allies such as Saudi Arabia, China, and the United Arab Emirates.
In October 2018, Saudi Arabia had agreed to provide $6 billion — $3 billion in aid and another $3 billion in deferred payment for oil imports — to the cash-strapped nation. Riyadh then went on to sign an array of investment deals worth $20 billion with Pakistan during crown prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit on February 17. One of the agreements signed was on Saudi Arabia's Aramco-run refinery in the Pakistani port of Gwadar and the deal was reportedly valued at $10 billion.
The UAE too has extended quite some help to Pakistan, agreeing to provide $6 billion in assistance. The two nations have also discussed a plan under which Pakistan will save about $7.9 billion on oil and gas imports. Pakistan earlier said that Abu Dhabi has also "almost finalised" an investment plan to build an oil refinery in Pakistan. The deep-conversion refinery will reportedly be set up by Parco, a joint venture of Pakistan and the UAE.
The Imran Khan-government had reportedly also approached Qatar and hoped to get some help in terms of LNG prices and payments. Pakistan was in talks with the International Monetary Fund and hoped to secure a funding of about $8 billion dollars to overcome the financial crisis.