Apex court asks NAB to submit LNG agreement with Qatar

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the National Accountability Bureau to submit the agreement signed between the country and Qatari government for the import of Liquified Natural Gas.

Disposing off a petition filed by a private citizen, the apex court directed the Bureau to also immediately submit details of a probe held on the matter.

The agreement was signed during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s tenure by former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The contract will enable Pakistan to purchase LNG from Qatar for the next 16 years.

According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Pakistan will save more than $600 million over the first 10 years of the deal. Pakistan emerged as an LNG buyer after the deal with Qatar was eventually settled for 3.75 million metric tons annually over 15 years.

During the hearing of the case, the NAB prosecutor general had informed the court that 80 per cent of the record had been recovered, assuring it that court’s directions were conveyed to all investigating officers.

CJP Justice Nisar said that details of the case should not be disclosed in an open court. He also ordered NAB to expedite progress on cases and file references on any when it’s due.

The court also expressed anger at the bureau’s investigation officers for misbehaving with personnel under investigation.

Earlier, lawmakers had criticised negotiations between state agencies and foreign LNG suppliers, some of them complained that there was a sheer lack of transparency in the affair.

The Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum had on August 31 summoned officials of the Pakistan State Oil to explain the history of the deal. The probe committee noted that the deal with signed behind closed doors and the only publicly available copy of the agreement was redacted.

Despite PSO’s assertion that it saved money in the deal, PTI senator Mohsin Aziz, who heads the committee, said there were still concerns over the deal.

Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.