PHC restrains from awarding Wana Petroleum Block

Humayun Khan

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court restrained the Federal Secretary for Ministry of Energy and the Director General Petroleum Concessions from awarding the highly prospective Wana Petroleum Block in an international bidding round asking them to explain how the shape and size of the block had been altered without apparently adhering to rule 22 (8) of the Pakistan Onshore Exploration and Production Rules 2013.
A divisional bench of the Peshawar High Court consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmad and Justice Arshad Ali took up on Monday a petition filed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Company Limited (KPOGCL) challenging the alteration made to the Wana Petroleum Block. Representing the petitioner, Barrister Asad-ul-Mulk explained that following the 18th Amendment oil and gas finds feature at Serial No. 2 of Part II of the Federal Legislative List and thus as per Article 154 of the Constitution the Council of Common Interest (CCI) is to exercise supervision and control over oil and gas matters.
It was further explained on behalf of the petitioner that the CCI had formulated the Petroleum Policy 2012, clause 1.3.6 of which mandated consultation with the Provincial Director at DGPC, and this exercise had not been carried out before altering the shape of the lucrative Wana Petroleum Block. Barrister Asad-ul-Mulk further pointed out that as per rule 22 (8) and rule 61 of Pakistan Onshore Exploration and Production Rules 2013 the revision of the coordinates of a Petroleum Block can only be carried out if the geological petroleum structure extends into an adjoining free area and the excess area which is to be relinquished in its place should also be compact. Both these rules he argued had been violated as well, and the Federal Government could not have acted unilaterally especially in view of Article 172 (3) of the Constitution which vests joint ownership of oil and gas in the federation and the provinces.
AAG Rabnawaz Khan representing the Government of KP along with Provincial Director KP at DGPC Mian Nasram Javed did not specifically refute the anomalies pointed out and sought time to file comments.
Justice Shakeel Ahmad remarked that when an apparent anomaly was being pointed out the Court could not shut its eyes to it and was constrained to issue a restraining order.
The case was adjourned with direction to the Federal Government, the Provincial Government and Al-Haj Enterprises Private Limited, the main beneficiary of the alteration to file their comments.