Prior to OGDCL's emergence, exploration activities in the country were carried out by Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. (PPL) and Pakistan Oilfields Ltd. (POL). In 1952, PPL discovered a giant gas field at Sui in Balochistan. This discovery generated immense interest in exploration and five major foreign oil companies entered into concession agreements with the Government.
During the 1950s, these companies carried out extensive geological and geophysical surveys and drilled 47 exploratory wells. As a result, a few small gas fields were discovered. Despite these gas discoveries, exploration activity after having reached its peak in mid-1950s, declined in the late fifties. Private Companies whose main objective was to earn profit were not interested in developing the gas discoveries especially when infrastructure and demand for gas was non-existent. With exploration activity at its lowest ebb several foreign exploration contracting companies terminated their operation and either reduced or relinquished land holdings in 1961.