Huge hydrocarbon seepages in KP still untapped

At a time when the country is facing an unprecedented rise in POL prices, the country still has the potential to produce 200,000 oil barrels per day (BPD) and 1.2 billion cubic feet per day gas by launching exploration and production activities of oil and gas where seepages of oil and gas are found in the three federating units of KPK, Balochistan and Punjab.

KP and Balochistan are rich with seepages of petroleum products, which is a low hanging fruit but unfortunately, the Petroleum Exploration & Production Policy 2012 (Policy 2012) is silent on handling of hydrocarbon seepages. At a time when the PML-N was in power at the Centre, the PTI government in KP, was trying to get a nod from the CCI since March 2018, but interestingly it withdrew the summary from the CCI that was to meet on December 23, 2019. Since then, there is a questionable silence on behalf of the KP government.

It is pertinent to mention that Prime Minister Imran Khan, when he was just the chairman of PTI and MNA in National Assembly in the era of PML-N government, used to seek permission for PTI-led KP government for launching the E&P activities of oil and gas from the areas where seepages of gas and oil are found. But now the PTI is in power for the last three years, but the potential of hydrocarbon seepage still continues to be untapped which raises eyebrows of many.

“Seepage is oil phenomena to find out the oil and gas across the world. In China’s Xinjian province, about 2 million barrels per day oil is being produced through seepage. And the huge oil and gas reserves are produced in Virginia State of USA through seepage. Then why not from Pakistan,” an official asked.

According to the study of KPOGDCL available with The News and the summary of KPK government, which it later withdrew from CCI in December 23, 2019:

Oil and Gas are present in such a huge quantity that they are coming to the surface of earth but no attention has yet been given. KPOGCL is the first company who has worked on it, therefore, serious attention may be given to these areas and KPK government should assist and motivate KPOGCL and other E&P companies to dig out these hidden treasures. Since all reserves are present in the southern districts, so many oil and gas companies are hesitating in starting E&P activities. KPOGCL technical staff has studied the geological and geophysical aspects of these areas. They found the oil and gas are oozing in about 15 various localities in southern districts, including northern districts Swabi and Malakand of KPK.

Kohat: Gumbat-Qamar Dhok oil seepage

Qamar Dhok village is 45 kms away from the main Kohat city and 135 kms from Peshawar. This village is located in nearby area of PS Gumbat. The study area lies in Kohat Sub Basin near Sheikhan Gas Field (OGDCL) and close to Baratai Block (JV with OGDCL and KPOGCL as non-operating). The study area composed of such rock units that have achieved high porosity and permeability, which satisfy the conditions for oil and gas generation. However, mainly the area possesses huge crude oil reservoir and little gas crude oil is being extracted since 1990 within the vicinity of Gumbat Area, village Qamar Dhok. The residents of the area are extracting minimum 150 and maximum more than 300 liters of crude oil per day. More than 30 small wells are drilled up to a few meters by the residents, as the residents don’t have the latest technology to explore all the crude oil present within the subsurface. The traditional way of drilling in Qamar Dhok village is wasting the crude oil, which may cause continuous loss.

Swabi: Pabini Village oil seepage

Pabini Village is a small village located at a distance of about 14 kilometers from the main Swabi city. The study area is located near Peshawar Block, which is owned by Hycarbex Inc. It is very rich consisting of buried fossils and has attracted many oil and gas exploration and production companies, therefore, Hycarbex Inc has shown their interest in this block in order to dig out the possible available hydrocarbon reserves. In addition to the possibility of presence of sources of hydrocarbon generation, it has abundant precious minerals like Tanawal Quartzite and those resembling the geology of Hazara Basin e.g Hazara formation. Ambar formation consisting of rich carbonates may also act as body of possessing oil and gas. A KPOGCL team made a visit to the said locality to observe the oil seepage in a well. The well is shallow drilled water well. The oil essence is present in the water due to which water cannot be utilized for drinking purposes. The well was drilled in the house of a resident for digging out water for domestic purposes. The technical team of KPOGCL carried out physical observations of the study area and the oil in dug well, which states that “Oil reservoir is lying within the vicinity of Peshawar Block/Swabi area and is continuously flowing into the well, which shows that huge reservoir of oil is lying within the subsurface that is flowing with water”.

Bannu: Domail Area oil seepage

Domail is located at a distance of 16 kilometers from the main Bannu City. Bannu Basin is a small geological basin lying in the south of Kohat Basin, therefore, the geology mainly resembles to Kohat sub basin. The study area had already attracted a few oil and gas exploration and production companies about 10 to 20 years ago because the area is saturated with hydrocarbons in the form of oil and gas but due to security issues the companies hesitate to invest. KPOGCL feels no hesitation in visiting fields in the all-southern districts, including the study area. A KPOGCL team visited Domail Bannu in order to see the oil seepage and a previously drilled well. In 1996, Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL-one of the largest and oldest Pakistan National Oil and Gas Company) drilled a well in the vicinity of Bannu West Block, which is further to Domail area. The previous studies and literature show that the well was drilled up to desired depth of 5,000 meters and hydrocarbons extraction was about to start but due to line order situations and political involvements, the owner company did not precede for further exploration.

Karak: Kutal Area oil seepage

Kutal area is located opposite to GPO Karak at a distance of 10 kilometers from the main Karak city and 130 kilometers from Peshawar. Karak is one of the proven geological basins, which is yielding more than 50pc of oil in Pakistan. Most of the oil and gas fields lie in Karak such as Nashpa Oil and Gas field and Tal Block producing fields. Oil seepage is present in the vicinity of Kutal area said, Zafar Iqbal. Karak is also the part of Kohat Basin, so the geology is same.

The oil seepage point lies along the Karak thrust in a small valley within the hilly ranges. It was physically observed that oil was oozing from the foothills of the Karak thrust. It is at some distance from the populated area. The oil is exuding from the last five years. The KPOGCL team observed the situation and stated that the oil seepage has resulted due to a nearby present reservoir, which may have plenty of oil preserved within the body of the potential geological rock units.

If detailed study is conducted and an opportunity is provided to KPOGCL geologists and geophysicists, then it can be utilized by starting proper farm-in activities.

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