ExxonMobil close to hitting huge oil reserves in Pakistan, bigger than Kuwait’s

Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s caretaker Minister for Maritime Affairs and Foreign Affairs, speaking at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. (AN photo)
Updated 05 August 2018
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ExxonMobil close to hitting huge oil reserves in Pakistan, bigger than Kuwait’s

  • The US energy giant has drilled up to 5,000 meters near the Pakistan-Iran border, says Pakistan foreign minister
  • If the oil deposits are discovered as expected, Pakistan will be among the top 10 oil-producing countries, ahead of Kuwait in sixth position

KARACHI: The US energy giant ExxonMobil is close to hitting huge oil reserves near the Pakistan-Iran border, which could be even bigger than the Kuwaiti reserves, says Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s caretaker minister for maritime affairs and foreign affairs.

ExxonMobil, the American multinational oil and gas company, has so far drilled up to 5,000 meters close to the Iranian border and is optimistic about the oil discovery, Haroon told business leaders at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
If the oil deposits are discovered as expected, Pakistan will be among top the 10 oil-producing countries ahead of Kuwait in sixth position.
Kuwait’s oil reserves make up 8.4 percent of the oil reserves in the world. Kuwait claims to hold about 101.50 billion barrels, including half of five billion barrels in the Saudi-Kuwaiti neutral zone which Kuwait shares with Saudi Arabia.
According to current estimates, 81.89 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries, with the bulk of OPEC oil reserves in the Middle East, amounting to 65.36 percent of the OPEC total, latest OPEC data shows.
Pakistan’s foreign minister also said that his government has already taken an undertaking from ExxonMobil to set up a generation complex worth $10 billion.
“They are also putting up an LNG berth at Port Qasim, the second seaport in Karachi. They have already paid for the drilling rights in Pakistan,” Haroon added.
He said: “Pakistan is providing a level playing field to foreign investors and they are interested in coming to Pakistan. What we need to do is to meet their standards and attract them to make investment.”
In May 2018, the ExxonMobil had acquired 25 percent stakes in offshore drilling in Pakistan. The agreement was signed at Prime Minister’s Secretariat among ExxonMobil, Government Holdings Private Limited, PPL, Eni and the Oil and Gas Development Corporation.
The agreement has reduced the drilling share of other partner exploration companies to 25 percent each.
Haroon said that Pakistan is being dragged into the US-China trade war but “the country is maintaining its impartiality.”
“When we sought a much-needed external loan from China, which they initially had refused, the US expressed its annoyance,” Haroon added.
Pakistan currently meets only 15 percent of its domestic petroleum needs with crude oil production of around 22 million tons; the other 85 percent is met through imports. The country facing huge current account deficit of up to $18 billion is spending a substantial amount of foreign exchange reserves on import of oil. The import bill of Pakistan rose by to $12.928 billion in the July-May 2017-18 period of the last fiscal year.
Pakistan’s foreign minister also talked about the current water crisis and its impact on Indo-Pak relations. “India is acting to control water flows which would endanger Pakistan’s food security and they would ruin our crops,” he said.
Haroon called for the integration of Karachi Port and Port Qasim so that they could supplement each other in the larger interest of the country.
He underlined the need for a new area for a fish harbor as the existing one has many issues and there is shortage of land. He regretted that the harbor is not well kept and hoped that the European Union will give subsidy for a new one.
Ghazanfar Bilour, president of the FPCCI, said that Pakistan trade was facing global competition both in terms of marketing products and trade diplomacy as the agreement signed by Pakistan to expand exports was not providing potential benefits. “We need strong advocacy to achieve market access for Pakistani products in other leading markets, and correction in the existing bilateral trade agreements,” he noted.
Tariq Haleem, vice president of the FPCCI, called for bringing down the cost of doing business and improving efficiency at all Pakistan ports.
“At Karachi Port, about 27 million tons (import and export) of dry and liquid cargo is handled per annum. But, in actual fact, these volumes were not satisfactory, the reason being the extreme shortage of space at the Karachi port,” he said.


Judge may acquit women or call defense in Kim Jong Nam trial

This combination of the Oct. 2, 2017 file photos shows Indonesian Siti Aisyah, left, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, right, escorted by police as they leave a court hearing in Shah Alam, Malaysia, outside Kuala Lumpur. (AP)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Judge may acquit women or call defense in Kim Jong Nam trial

  • Evidence has shown the women’s conduct before and after the killing was inconsistent with that of assassins
  • The women had “used their bodily power” to deliberately target the poison on his eyes and face for faster penetration

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Two Southeast Asian women on trial in Malaysia for the brazen assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother could be acquitted Thursday or called to enter their defense in a case that has gripped the world.
Indonesia’s Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnam’s Doan Thi Huong, 29, are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017. The women have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a hidden-camera show.
They are the only two suspects in custody and face the death penalty if convicted. If the defense is called, the trial could take several more months.
If the women are acquitted, they may not be freed right away as prosecutors could still appeal the decision as well as push forward with separate charges for overstaying their visas.

Here’s a look at arguments that were raised during the trial:
THE PROSECUTION
Over the course of the six-month trial featuring testimony from 34 people, prosecutors laid out a bizarre murder plot they likened to something from a James Bond film.
They accused four North Koreans, suspected government agents with code names such as “Mr. Y” and “Grandpa” and later identified by police, of being the masterminds who recruited the women, trained them and provided them with VX. All four fled the country the same morning Kim was killed and none are in custody.
Airport security footage shown in court captured the moment of the attack and prosecutors said linked the women to the other suspects. Shortly after Kim arrived at the airport, Huong was seen approaching him, clasping her hands on his face from behind and then fleeing. Another blurred figure was also seen running away from Kim and a police investigator testified that it was Aisyah.
Investigators said the women were seen rushing to separate washrooms, each with their hands outstretched, before they fled the airport. Kim died within two hours of the attack.
A government chemist testified that the VX concentration found on Kim’s skin was 1.4 times greater than the lethal dosage. He said VX was found in Kim’s eyes, face, blood, urine and clothing, as well as on both women’s clothes and on Huong’s fingernail clippings.
In his closing arguments in June, prosecutor Wah Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said the women must have been trained to use VX, a rare nerve agent developed as a chemical weapon. He said they had to know the best route for VX to enter the victim’s body and know that they must wash the nerve agent off themselves within 15 minutes to avoid being contaminated.
With Kim a tall and heavy man, the prosecutor said the women had “used their bodily power” to deliberately target the poison on his eyes and face for faster penetration. Despite their claim about a prank, he said their facial expressions and conduct during the attack didn’t reflect any humor.
“We expect that the defense will be called for a simple reason: They need to explain why VX was found on them,” Wan Shaharuddin told The Associated Press.

THE DEFENSE
Lawyers for the two women say their clients were simply pawns in a politically motivated killing with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
They say the prosecution’s case was too simplistic, handicapped by a sloppy investigation and failed to show any intention on the part of their clients to kill — key to establishing the women’s guilt.
The defense said evidence has shown the women’s conduct before and after the killing was inconsistent with that of assassins, pointing out that they didn’t wear gloves when applying VX, didn’t dispose of their tainted clothing and didn’t flee the country.
The real culprits, the defense argues, are the four North Korean suspects. The four were captured by airport security cameras discarding their belongings and changing their clothing after the attack.
The North Korean Embassy has also been implicated with an embassy official helping get flights out for the four men and using the name of one of its citizens to buy a car that was used to take the suspects to the airport.
Nevertheless, Pyongyang has denied accusations by South Korean and US officials that it was behind the killing. Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.
“The prosecution’s evidence is purely circumstantial,” Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said, noting that there was no proof that his client applied VX on Kim. He said his client’s DNA was not found on a shirt recovered by police.
Huong’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said they have given prosecution “a good fight.”
“We are confident that justice will be served on Thursday and (Huong) will be acquitted,” he said.