According to the US Energy Information Administration estimates, Pakistan keeps huge deposits of shale gas and shale oil. If these reserves are tapped effectively it can last for about 50-70 years and save precious foreign exchange of over $15 billion being consumed in shape of annual oil import, thus eliminating the trade deficit. The energy-starved Pakistan, though, is making efforts to overcome power and gas shortage, yet the root cause are the wrong priorities by official authorities. The shale gas estimates were made in 2013 and the government had approved the shale gas policy last year, however, still no progress has so far been make on the issue. Rather, the government looks more interested in importing LNG from Qatar at the yet undisclosed price formula. While the country is fast running short of conventional gas reserves, the report suggests estimated technically recoverable reserves of 105 trillion cubic feet of shale gas and 9.1 billion barrels of shale oil. Most of the country’s shale oil and gas resources are located in the lower Indus basin region, particularly in Ranikot and Sembar shale formations this time. In that case, one case say that the country is sitting on a goldmine with a vast exploitable potential for shale oil and gas. On the other hand, the most illogical argument behind the anti-shale gas campaign is the comparison of imported LNG and the cost of unlocking shale. It shows ignorance of the basic concepts of energy security, the importance of the national economy and jobs creation. The most glorious advantage of this gas is the potential massive job opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled Pakistanis. The shale gas is extracted directly from a sedimentary source rock and since it has low permeability as compared to the conventional reservoirs, it does not come out easily and hence specific investments and pricing are required for its exploitation. Government officials say an investment of about $1.5 billion is required for about 500 exploration and development wells as such projects are capital intensive and required high level technological expertise. However, at this critical stage of sharp energy shortfall the authorities need to ponder that with the application of newer technologies, the level of technically recoverable shale oil and gas resources could increase substantially in future this paving the way for vast foreign investment and creating a major job market. We cannot afford to miss this chance as it has the potential to make an economic turnaround in the country, which, otherwise looks a distant dream with the current energy resources shortfall.

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