KARACHI, Aug 26: President Pervez Musharraf said on Friday that Pakistan must establish oil refineries at Gwadar to refine oil of Gulf countries for international market. “If we can develop large oil terminal and set up oil refineries at the Gwadar port located at the mouth of the Gulf.

We can refine crude coming from the Gulf and going out to the world market,” President Musharraf noted while speaking at the inauguration of $480 million 817km white oil pipeline from the Port Qasim to Mahmood Kot, built by Pak-Arab Pipeline Company (Papco).

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon, the minister of state for petroleum, SBP Governor Dr Ishrat Husain, the Sindh chief secretary, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Chunxiang and other high officials were also present on the occasion.

President Musharraf said that world oil prices were rising because of lack of refining capacity and not because of production shortage. “There is a big gap between demand and supply of refined oil. Therefore, I think, Pakistan must go very strongly towards establishing oil refineries,” he noted.

It would also serve the strategic interests of the country, he observed.

He said the Gwadar port had been completed and it would be commissioned in June 2006. “The port is ready but we are dredging it to 15 metres depth for accommodating larger vessels. It is an ideal situation for Pakistan.”

“A similar pipeline can be laid from Gwadar to the upcountry to transport oil products as a feasible proposition,” he observed.

He said the government would complete all the initiated projects. Referring to Papco, he said that he was associated with this project since its inception when Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with former Chinese premier Zhu Rongi (in 2002).

President Musharraf said dozens of mega projects were on track. Some of them have been completed and others will be completed within the coming year.

The president lauded the efforts of Parco, Shell Pakistan, PSO and Caltex for this joint venture of great importance and strategic significance to Pakistan, saying it will give a great boost to the economy of the country. “It is the most secure means of transporting oil products to the upcountry which consumes 60 per cent of petroleum products,” he said.

He said this pipeline would go a long way in catering to the needs of Afghanistan and Central Asian republics in an environment-friendly manner.

He also complimented China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation and Techno Engineering Pakistan for early completion of the project.

President Musharraf pointed out that it would replace the transportation of oil products by tankers which had been crowding the area in Keamari.

He said the government wanted to accelerate the process of exploration in offshore and onshore areas. “We also want to accelerate the process of distribution of gas and oil to all areas of Pakistan.”

“We will take gas to all parts of Pakistan,” the president promised. He said the government was (currently) evaluating a proposal to install CNG or LNG gas tanks outside those towns which are located in far-flung areas of the country and lay a distribution system within these towns to provide gas to the locals through pipelines at half the price of cylinder.

President Musharraf said he had given the deadline of January 1, 2006 for this project to the authorities concerned and hoped that they would not violate the time frame.

He said the government, in its efforts to reduce dependence on oil for energy production, had slashed the ratio from current 70 per cent to 59 per cent and wanted to further decrease.

Earlier, the petroleum and natural resources minister said the pipeline would be sufficient to meet the oil product demand for the next 35 to 40 years.-APP

Sorce: Daily Times