Long live free and united Balochistan

Long live free and united Balochistan

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Iran Gas Pipeline And Balochistan

A PART from the prohibitive cost of the IPI gas pipeline, it is unfair to Balochistan and its people that our federal government would be willing to spend a huge sum of money to import gas from a foreign country rather than spend a fraction of that amount in exploring and producing gas from within the province and the country.

Is this a case of skewed priorities or wilful, deliberative hostility to spite the Baloch people? Either way, it doesn't bode well for the country or the people.

History of natural gas exploration in Balochistan indicates that it is bestowed with major natural gas reserves. Dera Bugti disrict alone that comprises gas-producing fields of Pirkoh, Loti, and Sui has estimated gas reserves of about 10 trillion cubic feet, while the Kohlu district, comprising of Jandran, Jandran West and Kalachas blocks, has about 22 tcf of gas deposits.

Zin and Zamardan blocks also have significant quantities of gaseous formations.

There is no question that gas exploration was never seriously undertaken by successive Pakistan governments. For instance, in the Zin block, OGDC drilled only one exploratory well in 1996 and in next 14 years failed to drill another well.

Similarly, in the Kohlu and Zamardan blocks, brimming with gas reserves, successive multinational oil companies, such as Exxon, Occidental, BP invoked the force major clauses of their exploration licences and refused to conduct any exploration activity since the 1980s on account of adverse prevailing security situation.

And if a dire security situation in the province was and is the major hurdle in the development of our petroleum resources in Balochistan, then doesn't it make better sense to resolve this political impasse rather than go elsewhere outside the country looking for gas?

If resolving this problem would entail giving up substantial central control over resources and political power, so be it. The fact is that the development of our own natural gas resources would give the nation self-reliance, improve Balochistan's infrastructure, create jobs, facilitate national cohesion, and, above all, give us control of our own destiny instead of reliance on external sources.

By the way, the long passage of IPI gas pipeline through Balochistan will exacerbate, not lessen, the security concerns of its safety.

Moreover, the country's own expenditure on exploration and production of gas would be a fraction of the huge expenditure required to construct the IPI pipeline and to pay for purchasing this for 25 years or more. Foreign oil and gas companies would bring their own capital for the gas exploration and development of blocks that are awarded to them.

Finally, there should be no doubt that the pursuit of IPI gas pipeline will trigger serious economic sanctions under the US Iran Sanctions Act for any ‘responsibility for the development of petroleum resources' of Iran. America and most of the world is hell bent on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and are in no mood to listen otherwise.

Pakistan's kamikaze-style dive towards the bottom is due to a host of bad decisions, unwise, irrational and destructive.

Taking good decisions versus choosing bad decisions is what separates a successful state from a failed one. Perhaps we can salvage some sliver of salvation by reversing this bad decision that is ultimately not worthwhile given our national and security interests for the reasons stated above.


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