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Discretionary powers: PM refrains Ogra from issuing 26 CNG marketing licences

Discretionary powers: PM refrains Ogra from issuing 26 CNG marketing licences

ISLAMABAD: Following rising gas demand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refrained the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) from issuing 26 marketing licences to compressed natural gas (CNG) stations.

The government also decided to review orders of the Supreme Court that enabled Ogra to issue fresh CNG licences held up for a couple of years.

The government also sought details and circumstances that the authority decided issuance of 26 licences, directing the Ogra to put on hold further action on remaining outstanding applications.

In the meanwhile, the quorum of Ogra has been dissolved following transfer of Arif Ahmad Khan, an Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Division who was given acting charge of Member Oil, Ogra about two months ago.

As per details, the prime minister had exercised its discretionary powers to stop Ogra from issuing fresh licences.

Reports said that the Supreme Court had issued three interim orders in the CNG case. The court had directed Ogra to issue licences where all legal formalities had been met and physical completion had been achieved. The court was of the view that the question of gas shortage related to the gas companies and not to the regulator.

However, a final judgement of the case was still awaited. Officials said the review applications could be filed before the apex court only after its final judgment.

There are a total of 69 investors who had completed all legal formalities and physical activities but had been pending issuance of formal operations owing to a series of complications like investigations by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and cases in the Supreme Court and high courts.

Ogra had decided last month to issue fresh marketing licences to 26 CNG stations blocked since 2008 due to a ban imposed by then interim government owing to emerging gas shortage.

The regulator had granted about 20 marketing licences early this year following the screening of the applicants having provisional licences through a technical committee. In the meanwhile, the post of member oil fell vacant and the Ogra sought law ministry’s decision if two member Ogra could continue with the process.