DGH could learn from Pakistan open acreage system

Vol 9, PW 22 (23 Feb 06) People & Policy

Pakistan might be jealous of Indias economic achievements but when it comes to attracting foreign oil explorers theres no doubt Islamabad beats Delhi.

In Pakistan its much easier to acquire acreage because you dont get into a head-to-head bidding war with someone who has bid a ridiculous amount of exploration wells, says one operator. Adds another: People here are less worried about giving away the family silver.

Pakistan is facing a huge energy crisis and they want overseas companies to get involved. In India you sometimes get the feeling that were not wanted, that they can do it on their own.

Agrees another operator: Pakistans system is far more organised than you would expect. Theyve had the courage to see they cant do it alone and have outsourced it.

India being India they will probably insist on doing it alone. This is fine but you need the will and drive to make it happen.

What can India learn from Pakistan Atif Khan, head of LMK Resources, charged by the Pakistani government to set up a national data repository ten years ago, tells us Pakistan has 19 operators, most of them foreign. Khan admits early problems in setting up a national data repository.

Its not a difficult thing to implement, he says. But it requires a lot of support from the central government.

They have to convince the operators and the state governments that all the data should only go through one channel. He adds: Pakistan has seen all the major companies coming in and out over the years.

We had to travel to oilfields across Pakistan to collect data. Sometimes we had to pay to release copies of the data because the original copies submitted to the government got lost.

Most important, argues Khan, setting up a national data repository is cost-effective. The beauty of this system is that it costs the government nothing, he says.

Pakistan has the same problem as India. There are not unlimited funds to set up systems like this so we agreed a profit share that works like a PSC.

We recover our operating costs and the profit is shared with the government on a sliding scale. From day one, we have been making money for the government.