ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Great Indian Gas Robbery

An independent consultant in an interim report has upheld the contention of the public sector Oil and Natural Gas Corporation that gas from one of its undersea wells in the Krishna-Godavari basin was consciously and systematically pilfered by a company controlled by Reliance Industries. Why did the Directorate-General of Hydrocarbons allow this to happen and why did the Government of India not protect the interests of a premier public sector undertaking?

This article was written before the finalreport was submitted to the government on30 November 2015

It is a dispute without any precedent, at least not in this country. India’s largest public sector company and the biggest producer of oil and gas, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has accused the country’s biggest privately-owned company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), of stealing gas from one of its reservoirs located beneath the ocean bed in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Andhra Pradesh along the basin of the Krishna and Godavari Rivers. What is worse, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) in the Government of India has been accused of being complicit in the alleged theft.

The dispute between ONGC and RIL is more than two years old. After months of legal wrangling, the warring companies agreed on an independent consulting firm based in the United States (US) which would give its technical findings in the dispute. This consultant, DeGolyer and MacNaughton (D&M) based out of Dallas, Texas, in the US, submitted an interim report on 9 October which stated that natural gas worth $1.7 billion or over Rs 11,000 crore had been extracted by RIL in an unauthorised manner from an area on the ocean bed where gas extraction was supposed to be controlled by ONGC.

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