ONGC Drags DGH, Oilmin, RIL to Court

RIL says lit­i­ga­tion ‘un­war­ranted’, all plans ap­proved by govern­ment

The Economic Times - - Front Page - SA­MAN­WAYA RAU­TRAY

ONGC has al­leged that Re­liance In­dus­tries may have drawn nat­u­ral gas worth thou­sands of crores of ru­pees from a com­mon reser­voir in the KG-D6 block, and taken the mat­ter to the Delhi High Court, ac­cus­ing the oil min­istry and its tech­ni­cal arm of turn­ing a blind eye to the is­sue. Jus­tice Man­mo­han is­sued notices to the Union govern­ment, the Direc­torate Gen­eral of Hy­dro­car­bon (DGH), and RIL, and posted the case for fur­ther hear­ing on May 29. ONGC told the court that it wants a “truly in­de­pen­dent” agency to ex­am­ine the mat­ter, and com­pen­sa­tion from RIL if the in­de­pen­dent agency finds that the pri­vate com­pany has drawn gas from a com­mon reser­voir. ONGC coun­sel Dushyant Dave later told re­porters that ONGC may claim com­pen­sa­tion of over .` 25,000 crore. Govern­ment coun­sel Neeraj Chaud­hari ac­cepted the no­tice. He said the is­sues were be­ing sorted out in a joint com­mit­tee com­pris­ing RIL and ONGC un­der the aegis of the DGH. “Meet­ings are go­ing, they (ONGC) are tak­ing part,” he con­tended. Re­liance said ONGC’s lit­i­ga­tion was un­war­ranted as the two firms had con­struc­tively en­gaged in shar­ing data and re­solv­ing the mat­ter with the help of a third-party ex­pert – the most re­cent meet­ing be­ing as late as on May 9. “ONGC and RIL have jointly signed Min­utes of a Meet­ing to record such an un­der­stand­ing. Any in­fer­ence prior to such as­sess­ment is mere spec­u­la­tion and com­mence­ment of le­gal pro­ceed­ings at this junc­ture is un­war­ranted. Any claims of any im­pro­pri­ety on the part of RIL, if these have been made, are base- less and RIL will take ap­pro­pri­ate steps to safe­guards its po­si­tion and rights,” RIL said in an emailed state­ment. ONGC has now dragged even the for­mer Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Hy­dro­car­bons and its ad­min­is­tra­tive min­istry to court. ONGC said the DGH should have been vig­i­lant while clear­ing RIL’s field de­vel­op­ment plan, which in­volved drilling wells “at such a tan­ta­lis­ingly close dis­tance of 50 me­tres to 350 me­tres” from the com­mon boundary of the blocks. It also said that the man­age­ment com­mit­tee, which has two govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives, should not have ap­proved RIL’s plans to drill wells near ONGC’s block, par­tic­u­larly when it had ac­cess to RIL’s data. Re­liance said its plans had been ap­proved by the com­mit­tee. “All petroleum op­er­a­tions un­der­taken by RIL have been in ac­cor­dance with the Pro­duc­tion Shar­ing Con­tract and the De­vel­op­ment Plan ap­proved by man­age­ment com­mit­tee, which has govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives with veto pow­ers. All well lo­ca­tions and well profiles have been specif­i­cally re­viewed and ap­proved by the man­age­ment com­mit­tee,” RIL said in the state­ment. A govern­ment of­fi­cial, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied, ex­pressed sur­prise that ONGC had taken up the mat­ter only last year, many years af­ter RIL’s de­vel­op­ment plan was ap­proved.

The two had ear­lier signed an MoU to share in­fra­struc­ture in the basin, which would have sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced costs for the state-run firm. Re­cently, RIL’s lawyer Har­ish Salve said in the Supreme Court that Re­liance was be­ing sin­gled out for crit­i­cism for its per­for­mance in the KG-D6 block, while there was no scru­tiny of ONGC’s nearby blocks, where the project’s cost es­ti­mate and com­ple­tion pe­riod were re­vised many times. “Even af­ter 18 years, none of ONGC dis­cov­er­ies has ma­tured to a de­vel­op­ment plan stage,” Salve had ar­gued. ONGC did not mince words in its pe­ti­tion be­fore the high court. “Per­ti­nently, four wells have been drilled by Re­spon­dent no. 3 (RIL) within dis­tances rang­ing within 50 mts to about 350 mts from the Blocks of Pe­ti­tioner and wells have been so drilled and con­structed that there is a pre-planned and cal­cu­lated slant/an­gu­lar in­cline to­wards the gas re­serves of Pe­ti­tioner with a clear idea to tap the same,” ONGC said in its pe­ti­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.