Court seeks FIA report on oil ‘theft’ in Karak

Dawn

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the Federal Investigation Agency to submit a detailed report about the alleged theft of crude oil in Karak district by an international exploration company within three weeks.
Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim also directed the MOL Pakistan to respond to the petition, which has accused the company of being involved in illegal and unethical practices, including oil theft.
The bench warned that if the company didn’t file the response, the case would be heard in its absence.
The petition is jointly filed by 50 residents of Banda Daud Shah tehsil of Karak district, including Mujahid Islam and others seeking court orders for the federal and provincial governments to compensate the residents of Karak, Kohat and Hangu, who have suffered property or land damage, health hazards and environmental degradation.
The petitioners also requested the court to order the cancellation of the exploration licence of the company.
They prayed the court to declare that the Federal Investigation Agency, law-enforcement agencies, federal and provincial revenue authorities, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, OGDCL, and federal and provincial anti-corruption bodies are involved in oil and gas theft and other issues as they safeguard the interest of the company.
Mohammad Muazam Butt, lawyer for the petitioners, said the MOL Pakistan, a subsidiary of the MOL Plc, had begun its operation in Pakistan when it was awarded an exploration licence and petroleum concession agreement in Feb 1999.
He said the company claimed to be producing 8,000 barrel per day of oil in the licensed area, while an inquiry conducted by FIA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, found huge discrepancies and corrupt practices in the company’s operation and declared the production was more than 30,000 BPD.
The lawyer claimed that the matter was also taken up to the National Assembly’s standing committee on petroleum, which was attended by all stakeholders, including the representatives of district administration, police, FIA, NAB, petroleum ministry.
He alleged that in a meeting of the committee few years ago, the FIA inquiry report revealed that the exploration company was involved in malpractices.
The lawyer said the company pressured the government agencies, so the inquiry was put in cold storage with no further progress on the matter.
He said all chemicals extracted from oil well were dumped so carelessly that they spread all over the exploration sites attached with Gurguri. The lawyer added that the chemicals were poisonous so they polluted water adversely affecting people and wildlife.
He also said from Munzila-1 to Munzila-9 fields, the oil and gas pipelines were laid down by the company through the lands of residents without obtaining the mandatory NOC from the government.
The lawyer sought orders for the formation of a joint investigation team to probe the matter and identify the culpable people. He said both FIA and the company hadn’t been responding to the petition for the last six months.

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