Natural Gas and Oil

The search for oil in Pakistan started in 1868 when the first test hole was drilled at Kundal near Mianwali, and continues to the present day. In Pakistan, large areas are covered by sedimentary rocks which have petroliferous members. The search is for stratigraphic and structural traps where oil could accumulate. Such favorable structures are usually not found in areas of intense folding such as the northern mountains. The possibility of major discoveries, either in on-shore or off-shore areas, is considered quite bright. Parts of Pakistan adjacent to the oil and gas producing fields of Iran have a similar geologic history.

At the time of independence (1947), Pakistan inherited four producing fields, Khaur, Dhullian, Joya Mair, and Balkassar. Since that time four more fields have been discovered: Karsal, Tut, Sarang and Mayal. All of these lie in the Potwar Plateau. Traces of oil occur at several other localities, and exploration continues in Punjab, Sind, and Baluchistan by arrangement between various foreign companies and the Oil and Gas Development Corporation.

KHAUR oil-field lies 54 miles south-west of Rawalpindi in Campbellpur (now Attock) District. This is the oldest field in Pakistan, discovered by the Attock Oil Company in 1915. Production commenced in 1922. Khaur dome is formed of upper Murree beds of grey sandstone and red shales. This field is now almost exhausted.

DHULLIAN oil-field is located about 10 miles north-west of Khaur. Discovered in 1937, this is the biggest field in the country, and also produces substantial quantities of gas. The structure is a gentle dome, about 36 sq. miles in area, and the oil is obtained from the Lani and Ranikot horizons of the basal Murree beds.

JOYA MAIR oil-field was discovered in 1944 by the Attock Oil Company. The structure is a narrow anticline, and the oil-producing horizon, Sakesar limestone. The oil is heavy asphaltic oil, and is transported to the Morgah refinery by railway.

BALKASSAR oil-field is located west of Joya Mair in Jhelum District. The first well was drilled by Attock Oil Company in 1945/6. The structure of the field is a gentle anticline, with two producing horizons, both of Eocene limestone. The oil is asphaltic, suitable for furnace fuel.

KARSAL oil-field was the first field discovered after independence. It lies a few miles north-west of Balkassar, to which it is joined by a pipeline. The Karsal anticline is exposed on the surface and the oil occurs in limestone. Quality is similar to that of Balkassar oil.

TUT oil-field was discovered in 1968, and the KOT SARANG AND MAYAL fields even more recently. All are located in Campbellpur (now Attock) District and have recently begun commercial production.

Production of crude oil in 1971/2 stood at 2.9 million barrels, but this was only 20 percent of the country’s requirements. Large quantities of crude oil are imported each year, principally for transport and are a heavy drain on the country’s foreign exchange. Imported crude oil is refined at Korangi, near Karachi, and local crude oil at the Morgah refinery, Rawalpindi. Korangi also produces a range of pertro-chemical products and the two refineries fulfill more than two-thirds of the requirements for oil products.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is the cheapest and most efficient source of energy in Pakistan. The country is well endowed with natural gas, total estimated reserves being 15.85 million cubic feet. Ten gas fields, of which only four are in production, have been discovered to date. The first field was discovered at Sui in 1952, while drilling for oil. As a result of an extensive programme of test drilling, additional fields were fond at Zin, Uch, Khairpur, Kandkot, Mari, Mazarani, Sari, Jacobabad and Dhullian. The natural gas of Pakistan has a high methane content, usually 70-90 percent. Production has increased rapidly, from 25,750 million cubit ft. in 1959/60 to 127,075 million cubic ft. in 1971/2.

SUI is the major producing field. It lies in the Sibi Distric of Baluchistan, at the foothills of the Marri-Bugti range, and is one of the biggest fields in the world. The reservoir covers an area of 75 sq. miles.

Production from DHULLIAN is associated with the oil-field and is conveyed to Rawalpindi by a 65 miles pipeline for power generation and domestic and industrial use. This gas also reaches Wah, where it is used in the cement and ordnance factories.

Natural gas is used for power generation and by industry. Power stations using natural gas have been built at Karachi, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Multan and Faisalabad, and 37.5 percent of total production is consumed in power generation. Fertilizer factories use 19.3 percent; cement factories, 14.1 percent; and other industries, including textiles, 26.0 percent. Natural gas is playing a vital role in the economic development of Pakistan by providing a cheap fuel for industry. Commercial and domestic consumption (3 percent) is still very limited.