• ONGC allowed loot, plunder of equipment: Parliament panel report

    Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked the government to probe the role played by oil ministry officials in delaying a decision on awarding the Ratna and R-Series fields, as well as ONGC executives for allowing “loot and plunder of equipment and take stringent action against them.

    The PAC report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, said the ministry’s indecision “directly compromised national interest on energy security and stringent action may be taken in this matter”.

    PAC said ONGC allowed “plundering and looting” of equipment from offshore platforms of fields by not putting in place effective security systems. “Non-maintenance of oil-producing fields by ONGC and subsequent plundering and looting from the sites is a sheer failure of a public sector undertaking in looking after the nation’s property,” the report said.

    Last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said the 16-year delay in award of Ratna and R-Series fields caused a loss of Rs 26,000 crore to the exchequer.

    The fields, 90km southwest of Mumbai, were awarded in February 1996 to a consortium of Ruias-promoted Essar group and UK-based Premier Oil through an international bidding process as per then prevailing policy for discovered fields. ONGC retained 40% stake as the original licensee.

    Subsequently, however, disputes over terms of the award delayed handing over of the fields to the consortium. Last year, the government finally restored the fields to ONGC.

    But in the 16 years that went by when the field idled, much of the equipment was stolen or became unserviceable.

    “ONGC’s own inspections reported the facts of ‘plundering and looting’ of platform utilities and equipment… As per ONGC’s own estimate of 2010, cost of repair itself of these facilities would be Rs 1,086 crore,” the CAG had said last year and projected a loss of Rs 26,000 crore to the country due to the 16-year delay in awarding the fields for production.

    Striking a similar refrain, the PAC report said ONGC “should have maintained the fields as being a PSU it would have anyway recovered all its expenses sooner or later”. Carlos Baerga Womens Jersey

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