ISLAMABAD: Sindh’s demand for representation in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) was endorsed by the provinces, in accordance with the concept of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
Both provinces have representation in Nepra at present. However, representatives are appointed by the federal government and the chairman of Ogra and the provinces have no say in it. Sindh has indicated that representation in Ogra should also be granted to provinces.
Two sessions were held after this. At a meeting held during the current month, it was announced that at its 42nd meeting, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) considered the resolution by the Government of Sindh entitled ‘Amendment to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Ordinance, 2002’ and directed the Petroleum Division to explore the possibility of including provincial members in Ogra in consultation with the provincial target.
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In that respect, the delegate of the Ministry of Law and Justice pointed out that it was a policy decision which should be taken by the Petroleum Division.
The power remains with the federal government, while Article 172 states that shared ownership exists. The regulatory power, according to the constitution, is with the federal government.
As regards the subject matter, it is abundantly clear from Articles 97 and 98 that where there is regulatory control, there would be executive authority. Today, if there is a need to adjust the composition of Ogra, the Petroleum Division will, according to the Ministry of Law, decide to keep its technological and functional aspects in mind.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister’s Energy Advisor agreed with the suggestion of the Sindh Government and pointed out that if any member had to be included in Ogra, he should have certain scientific, vocational and educational credentials, and according to that qualification, candidates from all provinces should be invited rather than from Islamabad.
In addition, the advisor drew attention to Article 172(3) of the meeting of participants and stated that the control of minerals, oil and gas within the province was collectively and fairly vested with the province and the federal government.
He cited the ruling passed on January 23, 2018 by the former Senate chairman, which provided for equal ownership of minerals, oil and gas.
The consultant clarified that oil and gas problems fell under the Federal Statutory List Section-2, which was under the CCI, and all the provinces were part of the CCI, and the provinces could be reflected in Ogra by comparison.
He agreed with the interpretation of the Ministry of Law and Justice as to the scope of legislation that was the domain of the federal government, but each had fair say in administrative and regulatory matters. Nepra was an example of an agency with regional representation that was operating efficiently, he said.
The Punjab Energy Secretary supported the K-P Energy Adviser’s point of view, adding that the bulk of oil and gas users were in Punjab and that the gas prices fixed by Ogra had an impact on the province’s gas consumers.
Ogra’s LPG/CNG rates often compete with the interests of the provinces, although the latter do not have a say in the regulator’s tariff determination due to a lack of provincial representation in the body.
With respect to Article 172(3), they decided, from the point of view of the Cabinet Section, that the Director-General of the Petroleum Concession, who was the upstream regulator, should not be equated with Ogra, which, through the involvement of all stakeholders, was a federal body for the security of the public interest and for successful decision-making.
Sindh’s delegate also backed K-position, P’s arguing that Article 154(1) and Part-2 of the Federal Legislative List established that organisations dealing with related issues were under the oversight of the CCI.
Provinces who are part of the council exert their power and collect information pertaining to these institutions only if they are effectively part of those institutions through top management representation.
Therefore, he said, they had transferred this overview because Ogra’s success would be improved with smooth and efficient cooperation due to provincial representation.
The federal government could specify the representation requirements in consultation with the provinces, he said.
The representative of Balochistan agreed with the Provincial Representation Suggestion in Ogra and suggested that the internal system should be altered in such a way that with current technical members, provincial members should be included to make the regulatory authority’s efficiency more effective.
The official of Ogra clarified the current framework and position of the authority, noting that three highly technical members and one chairperson had been nominated on a national level on the basis of merit by free competition.
Ogra essentially defines the revenue requirements of Sui firms and grants licences. By conducting public hearings in all the provincial capitals, the general public is made part of the decision-making, said the Ogra official.
Ogra also provides a mediation mechanism for grievances. Further recommendations about how the provinces should send their input to Ogra in order to further enhance its efficiency should be taken into account.