Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar has said that the government has stepped up efforts to identify and exploit the untapped existing mineral resources in the potential areas across the country. The minister said this while addressing an licence-awarding ceremony on Wednesday, as the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) has awarded licences to carry out oil and gas exploration activities in Attock district of Punjab province and Loralai district of Balochistan under its strategy to make the country self-reliant in the energy sector. Speaking on the occasion, Hammad said that $30,000 would be spent to undertake social welfare activities in each well-drilling locality every year. He expressed confidence that with the successful drilling and subsequent discoveries of hydrocarbon deposits, the country’s fuel import bill would reduce. The government will award offshore oil and gas licences in the coming few months, he said, adding that the government was in the process of establishing new terminals for increased import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) aimed at meeting the country’s ever-growing energy needs efficiently. Besides, the exploration activities have been initiated on war-footings to discover new oil and gas reservoirs in the country, he added.