Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Nadeem Babar trade barbs over LNG purchase

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - Dunya News program "Dunya Kamran Khan Kay Saath" held a grand debate between Special Assistant to PM Nadeem Babar and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the issue of LNG purchase. Both leaders stuck to their guns with the SAPM claiming that the government bought LNG at the cheapest possible rates while the former PM accused him of causing billions worth of loss to the exchequer.

Speaking in the program, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that he was happy that the government had finally recognized the importance of LNG. It is the responsibility of the government to purchase gas and add it to the system.

He said that the country’s need for LNG is very clear; we desperately need it to run power plants and for gas in various other fields. The current government has not installed new terminals, which the country badly needs. Today, we can bring six more cargoes of LNG, he said.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that ExxonMobil, one of the largest Big Oil companies in the world, came to Pakistan to set up a plant but after waiting for two and a half years, it was not given the permission. ExxonMobil is considered to be an expert in installing LNG terminals all over the world, he added.

Abbasi said that our agreement with Qatar was an excellent one, we couldn’t procure gas cheaper than what we agreed to with Qatar. This agreement was for 15 years, but Qatar can leave it after 10 years. Pakistan is profiting USD 400 million per year and saving USD 225 million per year due to this agreement, he said.

The former prime minister said that most of the gas exploration licenses were issued in our tenure but Pakistan produces very little gas and it is difficult to discover huge reserves, but we still tried to find them.

He said that all funds for the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) rest with the government of Pakistan. They were mainly for the Iran-Pakistan and the Turkmenistan gas pipeline.

While conceding that the country indeed needs LNG and that PML-N government did the right thing by shifting power plants from diesel to LNG, Special Assistant to PM for Petroleum Nadeem Babar said that during the PML-N era, LNG was declared as petrol. Pakistan pays USD 527 million per day to these LNG terminals, he added.

He said that construction work on one terminal is starting next month while another will also be constructed soon.

Nadeem Babar said the whole market was saying that prices would go down, so a 10-year contract should not have been made. After 10 years, we can’t leave the contract, only the prices can be fixed again. It was proven in their own tenure that those prices were not reasonable.

He said that the previous government had collected Rs 226 billion under GIDC. “Where is the collected money”, he asked his counterpart. For ten months, the terminal was being paid in full but no gas was received. These power plants only ran on LNG for two and a half years, not seven, he added.

Talking about Ishaq dar, the Special Assistant said that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had helped in sending the former Finance Minister abroad, he is now requested to help bring him back to the country.