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Makori Fire Mystery
Makori Fire Mystery

Makori Fire Mystery

Damage assessment of fire at a KP oilfield still awaited after two months

Islamabad: Mystery still surrounds the cause of fire that broke out at the Makori oil field in central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in late September, causing losses worth millions of dollars to the concerned stakeholders, inquiries made by Bol News suggest.

It was the second fire at the site since October 2015, when three workers were burnt to death. No loss of life was reported in the September fire, but estimates by informed sources put financial losses at anywhere between $ 17-18 million.

These sources attribute the losses to negligence by the local arm of a Hungarian oil and gas company, MOL Pakistan, which has 8.4% stakes in the Makori oil and gas field.

These doubts are triggered by the fact that even after a lapse of two months, MOL Pak is yet to report the incident to the local police and the concerned departments. Sources said that negligence by the company’s operatives was the most likely cause of fire as they often neglected to follow the main security related standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the site. The CCTV cameras on the site, for example, were inoperative at the time of the incident.

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They said the company has been avoiding proper investigation of the matter, and has the support of Petroleum Ministry officials in this regard.

The secrecy may well be due to the fact that, while MOL did suffer losses, the bulk of the losses will be borne by other stakeholders in Makori. For instance, Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) and Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL) each have a 27.7% stake in the Makori field, followed by Pakistan Oilfields Ltd (POL) with 21%, and Government Holdings (Private) Ltd (GHPL) with 15%.

When approached to get its response, MOL Pakistan’s media wing initially refused, saying it needed approval of the interior ministry before sharing information with the media. An official of the ministry, when approached, however, denied they had anything to do with the media affairs of a private company.

MOL did issue a statement later, saying; “Our response teams were activated immediately after the fire … and fire was brought under control. There was no injury or loss of life in the incident. This incident did not disrupt hydrocarbon production from Tal Block (an oil and gas field located in Kohat region of KP, of which Makori is a part). We can also confirm that the gas processing installations at the facility were never in danger. All reporting procedures for the law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders were activated immediately after the incident.”

It further said that as the operator of TAL Block, MOL Pakistan “is carrying out an internal investigation of this incident, the report of which will then be shared with all our stakeholders after due processes are followed. MOL Pakistan follows all the security protocols as per the highest international standards, and as agreed and approved by all the stakeholders.”

Regarding the losses incurred due to the incident, MOL Pak said it “will not speculate on the numbers and figures. A final report will be shared with the JV (joint venture) partners and other stakeholders.”

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When this correspondent approached the relevant police station, the Station House Officer (SHO), Darwash Khan, said that the company has not reported the incident and no application has been submitted to file an FIR of the fire incident.

The Ministry of Petroleum, when contacted, supported MOL Pak’s version, however, saying that the fire was “controlled in the shortest possible time. The processing facilities, plant and installations remained safe and there was no loss of life or injury. Further production operations were maintained with no curtailment in hydrocarbon supplies. The district administration, including the local police and Rescue 1122 were duly informed of the incident. The Petroleum division is in continuous engagement with MOL, and once investigation is completed, it will adopt its future course of action”.

Two more wells, Makori-2 and 3, were subsequently drilled. Makori-2 was found to be dry, while Makori-3 was put on production in June. Later, the Makori Gas Processing Facility (MGPF) with a capacity of 150 million standard cubic feet per day was developed. The sale of gas from the facility began in February 2014.

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