Historical Background of exploration in Pakistan

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If we talk about first exploratory well which was drilled in the region of undivided sub-continent (now Pakistan) then facts highlighted that it was drilled in1866 by Punjab Oriental State, right after seven years of World’s 1st well drilled in USA to a depth of 65ft.
With the passage of time, discovery of oil in province of Balochistan was the main success where thirteen shallow wells produced 25,000 barrels of oil between 1885 and 1892. Here one fact should be made clear that during this early phase all the drilling activities were controlled by The Government of Indio-Pak.
Unfortunately, they were unable to find such a reserve which exhibit commercial storage until 1910. Later on Attock Oil Company (AOC) made a first commercial oil discovery (4.31 MMbo) in 1915, in Punjab province. This achievement leads to attract many exploration companies to utilize their investment in region of sub-continent. As consequences three oil fields were established consecutively in 1936, 1944 and 1946 by joint venture of Attock Oil company (AOC) and Burmah Oil Company (BOC).
After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Government of Pakistan issued Regulation of Mines and Oilfields and Mineral Development Act 1948 and classified rules under this Act in 1949. The main objective of this Act was to provide regulatory authority to encourage and accelerate petroleum exploration and production activities in the country.
BOC and AOC transferred its exploration activities to local companies, by establishing Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and Pakistan Oilfields Limited (POL) respectively.
After establishment of PPL & POL, a well drilled on the Sui structure (located in Balochistan Province), made the inaugural discovery of one of the largest reserves of natural gas and recoverable reserves were estimated to be over 10 trillion cubic feet (TCF) which is equivalent to about 1 billion barrels of oil. This discovery was a milestone towards the development & prosperity of petroleum industry in Pakistan which made numerous E&P companies attentive towards this part of globe.
In order to drill more exploratory wells in prospective areas, permits were issued to Standard Vacuum Oil Company (1954), Hunt International Oil Company (1955), Shell Oil Company (1956), Sun Oil Company (1957) and Tidewater (1958) respectively by the Government of Pakistan which led to further discoveries of natural gas reserves.
In spite of new gas discoveries during this time frame, the exploration activities towards the oil discoveries exhibit negative trend.
By keeping this trend in focus Government of Pakistan decided to establish the state oil exploration company and in 1961 a joint stock company under the name of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) was established which expands moving scheme of prosperous profile with the small gas discovery at Sindh province in 1965, followed by discovery of oil reserve at Potwar region of Punjab in 1968.
Later on gas reserve at Sindh in 1970, Punjab in 1972, then Sindh in 1973 and gas/ condensate at Punjab in 1975 were discovered by the same company.
Meanwhile POL discovered oil at Punjab province in 1968 and American Oil Company (AMOCO) discovered a small gas accumulation at Balochistan province in 1975.
After the modification of petroleum regulations in 1976, British Petroleum a USA Company came to Pakistan and started its activities and has drilled 65 discovery wells in Pakistan.
This opened a new oil province and broke the tradition in the north region. After Sui (Balochistan), the discovery of oil in the Southern Basin was the second milestone in search for hydrocarbons in Pakistan and this area has attained the distinction of contributing 59% of the total oil production of the country.
Following journey of success OGDCL discovered a large gas storage in Eocene Carbonates of Middle Indus Basin in 1989 and fortunately in the same year, Eni made a gas discovery in Sandstone (Cretaceous) in south region lead to discover number of significant gas reserves in 1993 and then in 1998 by OMV of Austria followed by Mari Gas Company Ltd (MGCL) in 1999, in 2002 Petronas of Malaysia provide its services to reveal hydrocarbon bearing zones.
North Frontier Province of Pakistan (NWFP) deviates attention of industrial progress when MOL of Hungry in 2002 and as well as in 2005 made discovery of reserves which has reinforced the belief of many Geologist that this region can host large hydrocarbon reserves and recently nine blocks have been awarded in this province.
Offshore exploration which had started in 1961 remained limited to the drilling of only eleven exploratory wells due to lack of success and high drilling cost.
Current statistics reveals that only four blocks in the offshore region are held under license, two by Total, one by Shell and the fourth one is by British Gas.

Sources

http://environment.gov.pk/act-rules/G-Petroleum%20Onshore%20Vol%201-Annexures.pdf
http://www.ppepca.com/aboutppepca.html
http://http://www.papg.org.pk/ehis.asp
http://http://www.mpnr.gov.pk/gop/index.php?q=aHR0cDovLzE5Mi4xNjguNzAuMTM2L21wbnIvZnJtRGV0YWlscy5hc3B4P29wdD1taXNjJmlkPTc%3D
Image: Courtesy naturalgasasia.com

About author

Muhammad Taimur

3rd year student of B.Sc Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering at University of Engineering & Technology Lahore, Pakistan.Interested in writing research articles related to Petroleum technology and on social issues.Currently working as ambassador for YoungPetro in Pakistan, Chairman of Environmental & Science pages at Haashiya Magazine, Pakistan and President of Pakistan Career Counseling Wing.

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