An investigation has been launched to check the role of some senior officials of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). This is to investigate the alleged embezzlement by various national and international oil and gas companies of billions of rupees, specifically Rs. 86 billion by forty companies.
FIA to Investigate
A complaint had been filed in the Lahore branch of FIA which revealed that these companies had taken from the public billions of rupees during 2012 and 2015 with the excuse of petroleum levy and gas surcharge. The complaint had been lodged against the ministry’s 2013-2015 audit reports.
The audit reports also reveal that some nine companies sold oil worth billions in collaboration with officials from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources after six years of stealing oil from 34 wells under the excuse of “test production”.
The law states quite clearly that test production cannot be conducted for more than two years after which the oil has to be closed or it has to be declared as oil that is going to be used for commercial basis.
According to the audit report:
“The ministry has reportedly managed to recover Rs48bn while Rs86bn is still recoverable from these companies which got oil and gas exploration licenses in 2002, but did not invest a single dollar for the purpose till 2012.
The Sui Northern and Sui Southern (gas companies) also misappropriated a huge amount collected in lieu of gas surcharge and included the same in their profit. The amount was to be deposited in the government exchequer.”
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had instructed the FIA to launch a very thorough probe into this case and since then the agency has managed to get back around Rs.2.13 billion from some of the companies involved in the scam. He also added that senior officers of the ministry were also being investigated along with company officials for their involvement in this matter.
The member of the FIA dealing with this matter further clarified that these companies had extracted the oil from these wells without paying tax on it over a certain time period. They also said that these companies had used government machinery to get the oil out under the excuse of “testing purposes” but it was then sold on the market illegally without any money being deposited in the national exchequer.
“In some cases, the (oil) exploration was allowed under the agreement with the government for three years, but it continued for 10 years and there was no check and balance on part of the department concerned,” he said.