LNG contract

The Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi informed the senate that Pakistan is buying the liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) at the world’s lowest rate from Qatar. The contract for the purchase of LNG had been signed efficiently and within the least timeframe to cope with the swelling energy crisis. He said the details of the contract and all the relevant information regarding it, was a part of the senate record which is available on the website of Pakistan State Oil (PSO). He assured the House to apprise the members on the block contents of the agreement provided they keep it secret. The prime Minister told the house that it was the first ever agreement in which the clause of renegotiate had been inserted and the negotiation process was completed in 14 months. He said that the government had floated a tender for five years and signed the 15 years contract after the price quotations and as per rules. However, he admitted the price slope would increase in accordance with the period of contract.

In democracies, the principle of transparency is held supreme. The draft of an agreement is vetted by the experts and then deliberated over in the cabinet meeting after which necessary approval is accorded. After the cabinet approval, the draft agreement is presented to the parliament to discuss its Nitti gritty. But these procedural requirements were not fulfilled which gave the opportunity to the opposition politicians to question the legitimacy of LNG contract with Qatar. Neither the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif nor the federal Minister conceded the opposition’s to make this agreement public. The vocal opposition politician Sheik Rashid Ahmad could not get copy of it from the secretariats of National Assembly and Senate. Consequently, he had to go to Doha to acquire this document. It is premature to say as to whether the opposition will be satisfied or not with contents of the statement of the Prime Minister about the LNG contract with Qatar.

Not only the opposition politicians had expressed reservations about the price of LNG but energy experts are also of the opinion that its price is very high. They compare it with the prices on which India and China are buying the LNG from Qatar. Another controversy about this agreement pertains to ENGRO LNG terminal for which a daily rent at exorbitant rate is being paid to the company. Hopefully the government will make the details of LNG agreement public and take people into confidence through parliament.

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