Pre-feasibility of $10 bln Saudi oil refinery to be ready by October, Pakistan says

A Saudi technical team, including Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, has visited Gwadar twice in recent months to examine the site for the refinery. (Twitter photo)
Updated 16 May 2019

Pre-feasibility of $10 bln Saudi oil refinery to be ready by October, Pakistan says

  • Islamabad’s technical team visited Kingdom last month and decided on first steps and timeline
  • Saudi team due in Pakistan after Eid next month for further discussions

KARACHI: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are all set to complete by October 2019 the pre-feasibility study for a multi-billion dollar oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar, the chairman of the Pakistani board of investment said on Tuesday.
In February, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he had signed investment agreements worth over $20 billion during a high-profile visit to Pakistan, including for the $10 oil refinery. 
A pre-feasibility study will set the future course of action for the construction of the mega project, Haroon Sharif, the chairman of the Pakistan Board of Investment, told Arab News. 
“The work is in progress. A Pakistani technical team visited the Kingdom last month and decided steps and timeline,” he said. “By October this year we will complete the pre-feasibility study. Both sides have agreed on the course of actions at their ends … who will conduct what part of the study ... how teams and steering committee will be constituted.”
Setting up the oil refinery and $1 billion petrochemical complex is at the top of the Saudi investment agenda for Pakistan. To push the project forward, a facilitation unit has been set up at Pakistan State Oil House in Karachi.
“International consultants have been hired for the study,” Sharif said. “They will explore everything from a refining capacity of 300,000 barrel per day bpd to petrochemical complex. After completion of the pre-feasibility study, we will decide about the future course of action and proper feasibility will be made.”
Last month, a Pakistani technical team participated in a workshop arranged by Saudi Aramco.
“Similarly, a Saudi team is due in Pakistan after Eid next month to further discuss project details,” the board of investment chairman said. 
Groundwork on the project is expected to start within 18 months after the completion of the feasibility study. The whole project will take 3-5 years from inception to commissioning. 
Pakistan currently imports more than 50 percent of petroleum products, which it aims to substitute with local production once the Gwadar refinery starts production. Analysts expect that the country would be able to save around $2 billion annually on the import of crude once the project comes online. 
Pakistan wants to attract investment and other financial support to tackle a soaring current account deficit caused partly by rising oil prices. Last year, Saudi Arabia offered Pakistan a $6 billion package that included help to finance crude imports. Last week, the country signed a $6 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund. 
Beijing has pledged $60 billion as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that involves building power stations, major highways, new and upgraded railways and higher capacity ports, to help turn Pakistan into a major overland route linking western China to the world.
In Gwadar, China is building a strategic port on the Arabian Sea.

In Peshawar prison, women inmates share food and prayers in Ramadan

Updated 27 May 2019

In Peshawar prison, women inmates share food and prayers in Ramadan

PESHAWAR: Located next to iconic landmarks like the Provincial Assembly and the High Court, the central prison in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar is a handsome old building bursting at the seams with over 1,800 prisoners. 38 of them are women.

The existing building was established in 1854 with an occupancy limit of 425 prisoners, but with the influx of thousands of inmates, a new block is now under construction and slated for completion by the end of the year. 

Inside the prison kitchens, convicted prisoners make round traditional bread and prepare Iftar meals for other inmates. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The prison department provides basic facilities and food to inmates still under trial and to those convicted in the male, female and juvenile sections. During the month of Ramadan, these facilities extend to include special meals at Iftar, like sweet rice, chicken and potatoes served with a side of milky hot tea. 

A female inmate cooks chicken gravy for herself and other prisoners in the prison barracks before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“We get good food in this month (of Ramadan) and are free to offer our prayers and recite the Holy Quran at any time,” said Shahida, an inmate who has been in the prison for five years but was convicted for murder late last year. 

Acting superintendent of the prison releases prisoners after the court orders arrive. The inmates receive the good news right before Iftar time in Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The large hall of the women’s section has a scattering of beds, but most inmates sleep, eat and pray on quilts spread out on the floor. 

A police officer stands guard outside the entrance to the women’s section in Peshawar’s central jail. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

"Some of the women get sick often,” said Iffat Shaheen, assistant superintendent of the women’s prison section. “Right now we have two pregnancy cases and one case of HIV AIDS, so we try to give them good meals. A few prisoners have small children inside prison with them and they get milk as well.” 

A female inmate gives English lessons to some of the children at the Peshawar central prison. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

Another female inmate convicted for possession of drugs has been in prison for seven months. She declined to be identified but said they had a lot of free time in Ramadan that could be put to good use. 

Women in Peshawar’s central prison spend their days reading the Quran and reciting prayer beads during the month of Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“This is a helpful time for us to learn skills like handicrafts and sewing,” she said. “When we leave prison, perhaps these things will pave the way for a good, halal living.” 

A woman inmate at Peshawar’s central jail has decorated her hands with henna in anticipation of the holy festival of Eid, which will mark the end of Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Rooh Afza, a popular indigenous drink made from herbs and flowers, is served around Peshawar’s central prison by the bucketfuls before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Weekly menu written out for prisoners at Peshawar’s central jail in Urdu. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)