PKR 1.13 Billion Outstanding Royalty Recovered from Two Companies on TI Pakistan Intervention
Governments across the world need resources, material, equipment, and services to execute public projects. The execution of the projects, procurement and services permits require that the entire activity be carried out in transparent, economical, and efficient manner, to result in the best value for the country, government and its citizens
On 16th December 2022, TI Pakistan came across a complaint of official collusion with the private companies causing loss of PKR 1.13 Billion to the national exchequer. It was pointed out that to undertake petroleum exploration activities, exploration licenses were granted to M/s SPUD Energy over Guddu and Bolan blocks, and to M/s Frontier Holding Companies over Badin IV South Block. These licenses were given under the provision of Pakistan Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 1986.
On account of commercial discovery in these blocks, the President of Pakistan granted a development and production leases to the holders of license to undertake development activities and produce petroleum. M/s Sui Southern Company (SSGCL) is the nominated buyer of the natural gas and crude oil/condensate from Bolan Block and Badin IV South Block, while M/s Engro Fertilizers is the nominated buyer of the natural gas from Guddu Block.
Under Rule 36 of Pakistan Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 1986, read with the Article 9.1 of the Petroleum Concession Agreement (PCA), the license holders M/s SPUD Energy and M/s Frontier Holding are under an obligation to pay royalty to the Government at a rate 12.5% of the petroleum produced and saved. Under Article 161 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the royalty on gas is collected by the Federal Government and paid to the province where the well-head of gas is situated.
It was alleged that M/s SPUD Energy was in consistent willful default of its obligation to pay the outstanding royalty of the total sum of PKR 834,821,397, while M/s Frontier Holding was alleged to be in willful default of its obligation to pay the outstanding royalty of the total sum of PKR 303,195,732, a total of approx. PKR 1.13 Billion loss to the national exchequer in Pakistan.
TI Pakistan took up the complaint and wrote to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 16th December 2022, to look into the matter and direct the regulators to recover the outstanding amount along with the interest prior to proceeding further on the contracts with the two companies.
It was astounding to observe that in pursuant to TI Pakistan letter, the Director General Petroleum Concessions on 11th January 2023
responded to TI Pakistan and stated “that the provincial share of royalty is directly transferred to the relevant province where well-head is located… and the federal government has nothing to say or advise in this regard’. The DG (PC) response was axiomatically contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Rules of Business 1973 and Pakistan Petroleum (E&P) Rules 2001.
The Constitution of Pakistan 1973 under FOURTH SCHEDULE, places mineral oil and natural gas under the legislative of Federation. Moreover, Article 161 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 bestows Constitutional obligation upon the Federation to collect Royalties for onward remission of funds to the Province where the wellhead is located. The Rules of Business 1973 expressly make the Ministry of Energy as the concerned ministry of the Federal Government tasked with Oil and Gas.
On 16th January 2023, TI Pakistan wrote another letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan that the response of DG (PC) was even contradictory to the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division), Directorate General of Petroleum Concessions directives issued on 17th February 2022 which have found M/s SPUD Energy to be in continuing willful default of its obligations to pay the outstanding royalty of a total sum of PKR 734, 450, 141/- and that no concrete progress has been made or initiated by the DG (PC) to recover the outstanding amount.
In response to TI Pakistan letter, on 20th January 2023, the Prime Minister of Pakistan vide its Office letter No.4(5)/Mis/DS/(EA-I)/2022/83 instructed the Secretary Petroleum Division to ensure recovery of the outstanding amount within two weeks and submit compliance report.
In compliance to the PM orders, the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) vide its letter No. Accounts 1(24)/ 2014-15 Vol-1 Part, dated 27th January 2023 wrote to the MD SSGC to withhold payment to the defaulter M/s SPUD Energy and deposit outstanding royalty in the Government treasury and ensure the same within two weeks.
On 14th February 2023, Director General (PC) informed TI Pakistan that Royalty amounting to Rs. 1.025 Billion has been deducted from the sale invoices of the defaulting companies i.e., M/s. Spud Energy and M/s. Frontier Holding Company Limited through SSGCL, and the same has been deposited in the Federal Treasury.
Transparency International Pakistan’s tireless efforts have resulted in saving PKR 1.13 Billion to the national exchequer