Pakistani companies, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and Pakistan Petroleum Company Limited (PPL), have been awarded drilling licenses for a pilot project to explore local shale gas deposits estimated at over 10,000tcf, the Pakistani Daily Times reported.

The Pakistani government is determined to tackle a gap of 2bcf of gas between  supply and demand in the country by increasing production capacity from the currently insufficient 4.16bcf/d.

The Pakistani Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources had previously awarded 46 exploration licenses to different companies, in line with its petroleum policy to step up local oil and gas drilling and production activities, with a goal to achieve country’s energy self-sufficiency, Pakistan Today informed.

The Ministry stated that a record number of 227 wells have been drilled, which resulted in 65 new oil and gas discoveries, and allowed for over 1tcf of gas and 16m barrels of new oil reserves to be added to the national energy system, Daily Times wrote in an additional report.

The exploration licenses scheme is being launched following a study conducted in 2014 in cooperation with USAID that had confirmed availability of 10,159tcf of shale gas and 2,323b of stock tank barrels (BSTB) of shale oil in place across the country, an official source in the ministry added.

Pakistan is reported to have around 200tcf of recoverable reserve of natural gas and around 58b barrels of oil in its shale structure, which is higher than previously estimated and larger than the existing conventional reserves of around 20tcf of gas and 385m barrels of oil, the ministry explained, according to an earlier report by Business Standard.