Karachi: It seems to be a lucky week for Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL).
After announcing a gas discovery on Tuesday, the company said on Friday that it has hit an oil reserve in District Attock, Punjab after drilling the deepest well in Pakistan’s history.
Work on the X-1, the first exploratory well in the Dhok Sultan Block, started a year ago. Company engineers reached the final depth of 5,827 meters on November 7, 2015, the company said.
“Based on wire-line logs, a hydrocarbon bearing zone was identified within the Lockhart formation, which flowed 468 barrels per day of oil along with 0.617 mmcfd gas,” the company said.
“This is the deepest oil discovery in Pakistan and has opened up a new play in the western Potwar area.”
PPL is the operator of Dhok Sultan block. It has 75% working interest in the block, along with its joint venture partner Government Holdings (Private) Limited (GHPL), which has a 25 percent stake.
“An acid stimulation is planned to be carried out after completion of the well which is expected to increase the flow rates (of hydrocarbon).”
Pakistan’s oil production gas gradually increased over the years to around 100,000 barrels a day. Most of that increase has come from wells in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The country resumed crude export mid of last year.
The constant support
For a company that is controlled by government and has been dragged into controversies over politically motivated appointments, PPL has achieved a small feat with the X-1 hit in so many different ways.
It has overcome the discord between executives, even if it never came into the open, with the sheer perseverance of its engineers who believed there was something at such a depth, according to interviews with senior officials.
The formation, or the underground crust holding petroleum reservoir, is the same as the one from which companies have been pumping out oil in Tal and Nashpa blocks in K-P.
But no company has dared going to such a depth before.
“It took us six years to achieve this. Work began in 2009 and there were so many doubts,” said an official. “Our people went back and forth acquiring more and more seismic data, trying different things and pushing the management to keep the tap of finance open.”
And the management concurred. The two former managing directors, Khalid Rehman and Asim Murtaza Khan, backed the project as drill bits went deeper and deeper. Current CEO Wamiq Bokhari also maintained the support.
“No private company would take such a risk. In such a venture there is always fear that engineers will lose the reservoir and costs will continue to mount,” said the official. The flow of oil from X-1 is same as that of Tal and Nashpa wells, even though the finds in the two blocks are much shallower.
“The implication of this is that we have found something at this depth. This has brightened the prospects for PPL’s new blocks of Hisal and Karsal.”
In coming days and weeks, PPL engineers will run tests on X-1 to check the reservoir size and use hydraulic fracturing to pump out crude.
PPL engineers say it is not possible to speculate about the exact potential of the block at this time. “The production can be two times the 468 barrels a day or even more.