Mumbai: Anil Ambani’s fuel marketing firm Reliance Natural Resources Ltd. or RNRL, on Thursday hit back at a government official for stating that the current gas dispute between RNRL and Reliance Industries Ltd, which is led by estranged brother Mukesh Ambani, would hit foreign fund flows into India’s hydrocarbon exploration projects.
In a statement, the company alleged that the failure to attract investment was due to “arbitrary, inconsistent and partisan policies” of the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas.
V.K. Sibal, the director general of hydrocarbons (DGH) who is the upstream regulator, on Wednesday told English daily Hindustan Times that the ongoing dispute between
RNRL and RIL ”will certainly have a negative impact on the global investment inflow in India’s oil and gas sector.”
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case between the two firms in a three-year old access and pricing dispute over natural gas from RIL’s Krishna-Godavari basin. RNRL has been claiming a portion of the gas at a 44% lower price than what the government has specified.
The RNRL statement said top private foreign players such as Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Statoil, Conoco Phillips had never participated in any New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) round and in the last round in 2007-08, out of a total of 57 blocks on offer, 12 received no bids at all, 19 saw just one bidder and for 16 blocks, no Production Sharing Contracts with the government have been signed.
Alleging that oil ministry had convert E&P sector into a “domestic duopoly comprising the new entrant RIL and the existing ONGC,” with 87% of all blocks in terms of
acreage and the remaining 50-odd players having just 13%.
The RNRL statement, which was a rebuttal of Sibal’s observation, said “The NELP rounds conducted over the last 3 years... reveal the absolute failure of the petroleum ministry to attract any global capital flows…” due to “…absence of a well-defined, transparent and consistent policy regime; lack of sanctity attached to concluded contracts and (a) clear and visible partisanship in favor of domestic players, like RIL.”
The ministry has so far backed RIL’s stand that gas can be supplied to any user only after obtaining an approval from the government and at the government-mandated price.