Islamabad - It looks the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is helpless in nabbing the crude oil thieves, as they take advantage of the stay orders.

The agency is also at a loss to understand how the crude oil was stolen from the main pipelines through puncturing, saying it is impossible to puncture the pipelines.

The revelation was made at a meeting of the Nation Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources on Thursday, which met with Chaudhry Bilal Ahmed Virk, MNA, in the chair.

However the FIA team was informed by MNA Nasir Khattak that the committee had footages from 12 different angles, which showed the pipeline was punctured by the thieves. The KP government’s inquiry also supported Khattak’s version.

The representative of KP Energy Department informed that the department had also conducted an inquiry, which substantiated involvement of several persons in the theft that caused colossal loss to the national exchequer. The committee directed the KP government to furnish the report to FIA.

“We had submitted the report to the provincial assembly, whose speaker asked us to forward it to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for further investigations; but NAB refused to investigate, arguing such investigation did not fall in its domain. We then sent the report to the provincial police department. And, now, we are waiting for its reply,” the KP government representative said.

The DPO Karak told the committee the accused had obtained bails from the courts. “However, the case is under investigation at the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD),” he added.

The committee was apprised that initial findings pointed towards the involvement of employees of the company operating the oil field besides several other individuals.

The FIA official said that MoL company’s staff, local police, a DSP and some other persons were allegedly involved in the theft.

“We have recorded their statements, but they have been set free on bail by the courts,” he told the committee.

The committee also directed the FIA to submit its preliminary findings to it by May 24, 2016.

During the meeting, Balochistan once again alleged the federal government kept it in dark about the important decision made in the oil and gas sector. “The federal government has extended the lease of PPL by one year without taking us on board, and we came to know about it when the story was published in newspapers,” said Abdul Qadoos, a representative of the Balochistan government.

He said that usually the negotiations for the re-lease started one year before the expiry of the lease agreement, but in case of Balochistan, the federal government started the negotiations after the expiry of the lease agreement.

The official of the Balochistan Energy Department also criticised the federal government for not extending the Petroleum Policy, 2012 to the whole of Balochistan.

On the issue of royalty, it was informed that Rs 32.388 billion had been allocated for the oil/gas producing districts in 2015/16.

The federal government has been crediting Rs 67.65 billion to Punjab on account of royalty on crude oil and natural gas since 1989, which are being spent in the concerned districts under the Annual Development Programmes

As per petroleum policy 2012, 10 percent of the royalty will be utilised in the district, where oil and gas is produced for infrastructure development.

The official of Punjab Energy Department said that in 2012/13, Rs 5.9 billion, in 2013/14 Rs 6.2 billion and in 2014-15 Rs 4.1 billion were provided as royalty to the province.

However, interestingly, Director General Petroleum Concessions’ figures were different from those of the OGDCL.

The committee noted the federal and provincial governments were not transferring the money to the districts.

Representative of the Sindh government told the committee that Rs 242.3 million were given to Badin district in 2014/15, while the DGPC said, “We had transferred Rs 450 million to the Sindh government for the same district.”

The federal government transferred Rs 562 million to Sindh for Khairpur, but the province passed on only Rs 393 million to the district.

The committee asked the federal and provincial governments to provide complete details of royalties district-wise, their schemes (complete and ongoing) and details of the persons consuming the amounts.

CEO Interstate Mobeen Saulat informed the committee that an agreement for laying the Gwadar-Nawabshah gas pipeline, worth $1.5 billion, would be finalised next month.

He further said the next project will be completed by December 2017. “Under the plan, LNG terminal will be set up at Gwadar port and 700km long pipeline will be laid from Gwadar to Nawabshah,” he said, adding, “Another 70-80 km long stretch will be added to the pipeline to connect it to the Iranian gas pipeline.” He further said the government to government agreement had already been signed with China, and a Chinese company, China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau, would implement the project.

“The commercial proposal for the project is currently under consideration,” he said, adding, “The Chinese companies will provide 85 percent funding for the project, while the rest will be furnished by the government of Pakistan.”

He said another North-South Pipeline was also being developed with Russian help to carry imported gas from Karachi to Lahore. “Under the plan, 1,100-kilometre long pipeline from Karachi to Lahore will be built with $2 billion Russian investment,” he explained.

When asked how much time it will take for the Russians to get their money back, the CEO replied the Russian company would operate the pipeline for 25 years, and would be paid gas transportation fee for that. “However, it may take 12 to 15 years for the Russians to get their investment back. We are still negotiating price with them, and will likely finalise it soon; but according to our estimates,it will be around $1 per mmcfd,” he elaborated. However some of the members of the committee showed their dissatisfaction with the reply of the Interstate CEO, and said it was strange that on one hand it was being claimed the project was ready for implementation, but on the other, the price was still being finalised. The committee asked the CEO to give in camera briefing on both the pipelines.