Exploration of shale gas deposits urged

LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the government to speedup work on exploration of shale gas deposits, as it would not only help solve the issue of energy shortage but would also reduce oil import bill, which is one of the biggest reasons of trade deficit.

LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed were of the view that in United States, shale gas is rapidly increasing as an available source of natural gas and reducing their dependence on energy import.

The LCCI president said that approval of Shale Gas Policy Framework from the cabinet in 2013 was a major initiative towards revival of the industry and the business community was optimistic that the government would chalk out a timeframe for the early completion of this pilot project. However, he said the project fell prey to bureaucratic hurdles and no major progress has been witnessed.

He asked the federal government to give priority to Punjab for exploitation of shale gas deposits and take the private sector onboard for early execution of this important project.

“LCCI had been pressing the government to tap other energy resources instead of depending on conventional gas reserves that had been depleting fast,” he said. “The shale gas exploration is highly capital intensive and requires high level of technological expertise, adding that private sector representatives should also be included in the project committee formed by the federal cabinet for its execution at the earliest.”

He showed concern over repeated increases in gas prices and said that gas is a major raw material for many industries and repeated increases in its prices would harm the growth of manufacturing sector.

“Trade and industry is already in deep trouble because of delay in refund claims, high cost of doing business and withholding tax while increase in the gas tariff would add to their miseries,” he added.

The LCCI president said instead of making undue raises in the gas prices, the government should accelerate exploration of new gas reserves and complete shale gas projects as soon as possible.

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