‘ONGC Trying to Mask its Failure to Develop Fields’
WAR OF WORDS Reliance Industries, in its affidavit, rules out any connectivity of its reservoir with that of ONGC’s
Reliance Industries has accused ONGC of trying to camouflage its own failure to develop gas fields by alleging that RIL had drawn natural gas illegally from a reservoir that the staterun firm says straddles the adjoining blocks of the two firms.
In its final affidavit to the Delhi High Court, RIL ruled out any connectivity of reservoirs in the company’s KG-D6 block and the adjoining area of ONGC. The state-run firm has taken RIL, the oil ministry and the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH) to court alleging that Reliance may have drawn gas worth thousands of crores of rupees from a common reservoir in the KG-D6 block, while authorities turned a blind eye to the issue. “It is impossible to allege much less to conclude that the discoveries within the ONGC and RIL blocks are connected and it is the case of these Respondents that there is no continuity or connectivity between the RIL Block and ONGC Block as is being falsely suggested by the Petitioner,” RIL said. “The Petition (of ONGC) is completely devoid of any merit or substance whatsoever and is a mala fide attempt on the part of the Petitioners to hide and camouflage complete inaction on the part of the Petitioner, acting in breach of the PSC (product sharing contract), for approximately 13 years and the lackadaisical approach of having completely abdicated its duties and obligations in contravention of every cannon of public interest,” RIL said in its affidavit. ONGC has argued that Reliance had drilled wells very close to the common boundary of the blocks, but RIL says this does not mean that reservoirs are connected. “Independent discoveries, unconnected to each other have been found in more proximate distances than the distances mentioned by the Petitioners,” RIL argued. It said the petition was based only on ONGC’s “belief ”, not technical data. It said that all the wells drilled by RIL are within the boundaries of its block and had the approval of the Management Committee consisting of government representatives in accordance with the provisions of the PSC. It said that ONGC had missed all the stipulated milestones in its contract and “failed completely to develop their block much less produce any hydrocarbon whatsoever therefrom … as against the exploration and development work done by these Respondents to produce hydro- carbons over last six years … The shortcomings and inaction on the part of the Petitioners stands completely exposed and the present proceedings are nothing but an attempt at masking and/or camouflaging the same,” it said. The company also argued that ONGC had made allegations on the basis of “stale purported seismic data allegedly available with the Petitioners since 2006”, which it said cannot establish connectivity between reservoirs even if they are in close proximity.