• ONGC denies prior knowledge of link with RIL gas field

    The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) had no prior knowledge of its KG Basin reservoir being connected with that of Reliance’s before 2013, its chairman DK Sarraf has said, disputing an official committee finding. But the state-run company is happy that the panel confirmed the flow of gas to RIL’s adjoining field, he said.

    Talking to reporters on Thursday, Sarraf alleged that the staterun firm’s submissions were not reflected in the final report of A P Shah, the retired chief justice of Delhi High Court tasked with studying the gas dispute between ONGC and Reliance Industries (RIL) after the state-run company accused RIL of pumping out natural gas from its adjacent field in KG Basin.

    The recently submitted report said RIL and ONGC probably knew for long about their reservoirs being connected but didn’t bring it to the notice of the regulator on time. “We had no knowledge of this earlier. And as soon as ONGC came to know of this, it took effective action in 2013. Whatever submissions we had made to the Shah committee, there is no mention of that (in the report). We do not know what is the reason for that. And why there is no mention of our submissions. But conclusion did appear in the Shah committee report,” Sarraf told a news conference in the company’s first response to the Shah Panel findings.

    The panel found that gas had indeed migrated from ONGC’s fields to the adjoining field of Reliance and that the latter had produced it, leaving the reservoir depleted with no scope for development.

    The panel said that RIL made unjust gains from this. “We had said about two years back that we apprehend that some portion of natural gas has flown from our fields to the fields of Reliance adjacent to us. It was a very tough statement to be made… But we are happy to report that our apprehension has been confirmed by the committee,” Sarraf said.

    The panel has also said that the government alone can claim compensation for the gas that Reliance had pumped out, not ONGC, pointing out that the latter failed to develop its field for years. “Whether we get paid for that or government of India will be paid for that is a subsequent thing, which would need to be addressed by various stakeholders,” Sarraf said without commenting on the next course of action or whether ONGC would approach the court for this.

    Two years back, ONGC approached the Delhi High Court alleging Reliance Industries was illegally pumping out gas from the adjacent fields of the state firm. Following this, the two firms appointed a US-based technical consultant to study the data to find out if it was correct.

    The court ordered the government to help resolve the dispute within six months of the submission of the consultant’s report.

    The Shah panel was set up to study the consultant report and quantify any unjust gains made by Reliance Industries.

    The panel in its report, however, said the oil ministry itself should determine the amount of compensation because the panel had technical limitations. RILhas not reacted officially to the report but had maintained in the past that it had drilled strictly within its own block and had done so with full knowledge of relevant authorities. Natrell Jamerson Womens Jersey

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