PESHAWAR: On Tuesday, the Peshawar High Court ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to launch an investigation into the suspected smuggling of crude oil during the output of oil fields in the Karak district within three months.
Federal petroleum and natural resources secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin was also ordered to collaborate with the FIA on the inquiry by a bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali.
Mujahid Islam and 49 other residents of Banda Daud Shah tehsil in the Karak district were hearing a joint petition requesting various relief from the court, including the revocation of the licence of a multinational oil and gas production company, for the alleged theft of crude oil.
The petitioners asked the court to rule that the provincial and federal governments are entitled to compensation for the citizens of Karak, Kohat and Hangu, whose assets and lands have suffered destruction and who have faced health hazards and environmental deterioration due to oil extraction.
Asks petroleum secy to cooperate with investigators
They also sought a declaration that the FIA, the law enforcement agencies, the federal and provincial revenue authorities, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, the OGDCL and the federal and provincial anti-corruption bodies are involved in the theft of oil and gas and other issues in order to safeguard the exploration company’s interests.
Additional FIA director Sajjad Khan, along with Deputy Attorney General Asghar Khan Kundi, also appeared before the court and said the investigation agency lacked technical assistance to prosecute the case, but the petroleum division did not cooperate in that regard.
On the court’s notice, Petroleum Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin turned up and said his ministry would fully help and cooperate as ordered by the court with the FIA.
He said all the technical assistance provided by the organisation will be given by the ministry.
The bench later adjourned the petition’s hearing until the last week of May, urging the FIA to file its report on the matter by then.
The petitioner’s counsel, Fazal Shah Mohmand, claimed that MOL Pakistan Oil and Gas Corporation, a subsidiary of MOL Plc, had begun operations in Pakistan after an exploration licence had been issued and that a petroleum concession agreement had been concluded in Feb 1999.
He reported that the company claimed to produce 8,000 barrels per day (BPD) of oil in the approved field, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an investigation previously undertaken by the FIA, had found immense irregularities and unethical practises in the activity of the company as the output was above BPD 30,000.
The lawyer argued that the matter was already taken up a few years earlier by the standing petroleum committee of the National Assembly, but was put into cold storage due to the strain of the powerful elements involved in it.
He also claimed that all chemicals collected from wells were discarded so carelessly that they scattered across the entire Gurguri-attached discovery sites.
The lawyer said the contaminants were harmful and tainted water that adversely affected the health of people and animals.
MOL Pakistan also sent a reply to the petition rejecting all charges against it, maintaining that all its social welfare commitments had been fulfilled.
It added that the matter had been repeatedly investigated and that it (MOL Pakistan) was in fact a survivor of the stealing of crude oil.
The business reported that the Public Accounts Committee and few inquiries into the matter have cleared it in the past.
It recently decided to fund the reconstruction and renovation of the 40km Gurguri-Banda Daud Shah Road linking the districts of Karak and Hangu at a cost of Rs400 million, along with its TAL Block joint venture partners.
The corporation insisted that its joint venture had repaid Rs91 billion in the form of royalty (Rs88 billion), Rs960 million in production bonuses and infrastructure growth and social welfare programmes to the government and communities since 1999.