Pakistan Targets $15 Billion Five-Year Investment in Gas, Oil

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"We want petroleum companies to invest in our petroleum sector and explore the untapped fields."

Pakistan's government is targeting $15 billion in investment to develop its oil and gas industry over the next five years as explorers including Eni SpA drill in offshore fields, an official said.

The majority of the investment in rigs and equipment will be directed off the country's southern coast, said Asim Hussain, adviser to the prime minister on the oil industry. That compares with $1 billion expected this year, he said.

"Pakistan offers lucrative returns," Hussain said in an interview in the capital, Islamabad. "We want petroleum companies to invest in our petroleum sector and explore the untapped fields."

Developing offshore fields reduces the risk of attacks by militants that have hampered oil and gas exploration, increasing Pakistan's reliance on imported fuels. U.K. explorer Tullow Oil Plc stopped operating in the northwest tribal region in March where the Pakistan military is fighting Taliban insurgents.

"The target looks ambitious when viewed in perspective of investment in past years and security, which hasn't improved," said Muhammad Azfer Naseem, an energy analyst at Invisor Securities Ltd. in Karachi. "Companies will be concerned about security for onshore drilling, particularly in the country's north."

Pakistan needs to boost oil and natural gas production as the government battles extremist violence and its worst economic crisis in a decade. The Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government's bid to revive the economy has been hurt by Taliban militancy in the northwest that has killed thousands of people.

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