LAHORE - The business community Thursday asked the government to give priority to Punjab for exploitation of Shale Gas deposits as the province is the worst hit by the gas shortage.

They said that the Cabinet approval of policy framework for exploitation of 51 trillion cubic feet (TCF) Shale Gas deposits would help overcome shortage of gas provided the pilot projects are initiated without any further delay.

They said that it was a long standing demand of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the government should tap other energy resources instead of banking on conventional gas reserves that are depleting fast. They said that it is a good omen that the government has given due consideration to the business community suggestions but the government should give priority to the province on Punjab for these projects.

They said that since Shale Gas exploration is highly capital intensive and requires high level of technological expertise therefore the private sector representatives should also be included in the Shale Gas Project committee formed by the Federal Cabinet for its timely execution.

LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the Shale Gas Policy Framework is a major initiative towards revival of industry and the business community hopes that the government would chalk out a timeframe for the early completion of pilot project and would not let it fall prey to bureaucratic hurdles.

He said that Shale gas project would revolutionize the gas sector as it would be of great help in the revival of oil wells that had been exhausted long ago. He said that although the government has extracted all the oils from these wells but still a lot of shale gas exists in hard form in these wells.

GAS THEFT: The LCCI President, however, has shown strong resentment at Dr Asim Hussain, PM Advisor on Natural Resources, for asking the OGRA to pass on to consumers the Rs 11 billion financial impact of gas theft.

He said that the OGRA Act has no such provision and only allows recovery of prudent cost of gas supply from consumers therefore the business community was unable to understand logic behind the proposal that would lead to massive unrest and closure of a large number of businesses.