Balochis­tan govt lifts ban on oil, gas ex­plo­ration pro­jects


QUETTA—The Balochis­tan gov­ern­ment has lifted ban on oil and gas ex­plo­ration pro­jects in the prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cial of the Min­istry of Petroleum & Nat­u­ral Re­sources. “The ban has re­cently been lifted by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment,” sources said. Pro­vin­cial Sec­re­tary of En­ergy Depart­ment, Khaleeq Nazar Kiyani, con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment.

“All na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ex­plo­ration com­pa­nies, which were awarded blocks in Balochis­tan by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, are con­duct­ing their op­er­a­tions through­out the prov­ince,” he said. The ban was im­posed by for­mer pro­vin­cial chief min­is­ter Dr Ab­dul Ma­lik Baloch, fol­low­ing his gov­ern­ment’s dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of 18th Amend­ment ‘in let­ter and spirit’ by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Lift­ing of the ban by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment was, there­fore, a sur­pris­ing move given the firm stand by the same al­liance un­der Dr Ma­lik’s ten­ure. He not only took up the is­sue on 18th Amend­ment at the Coun­cil of Com­mon In­ter­ests (CCI) but also reg­is­tered his gov­ern­ment’s protest with the cen­tre on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions. Ac­cord­ing to the then spokesperson for Balochis­tan gov­ern­ment, “The gov­ern­ment [pro­vin­cial] will not com­pro­mise the eco­nomic rights of the Baloch peo­ple.” The fed­eral gov­ern­ment was ac­cused of not heed­ing to Dr Ma­lik’s ob­jec­tions over the is­sue and con­tin­ued to ig­nore them in CCI meet­ings till the ex­piry of his term in of­fice as per an ac­cord be­tween the three party power-shar­ing coali­tion. Chief min­is­ter Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, fol­low­ing a ‘re­quest’ from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, lifted the ban in the ‘larger na­tional in­ter­est’ of the coun­try.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to sources, the Zehri gov­ern­ment ceded fol­low­ing a com­pro­mise with Is­lam­abad over the is­sue of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 18th Amend­ment. The spokesperson for Balochis­tan gov­ern­ment, also an­nounced his gov­ern­ment was in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the OGDCL, PPL and other in­ter­na­tional oil and gas ex­plo­ration com­pa­nies about the terms and con­di­tions of with­draw­ing the ban.

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