Mumbai/New Delhi: The Bombay High Court asked Reliance Industries Ltdnot to sell natural gas from its KG basin block to any other company except NTPC Ltd and Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Natural Resources Ltd until 2016.
The court order throws a new hurdle in front of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, which has faced growing opposition to its plans to price and sell gas from the Krishna Godavari basin, off Andhra Pradesh. The Ambani brothers split their father’s industrial empire but have been butting into each other’s growing business ambitions in recent months.
The Andra Pradesh government has also opposed the move by Reliance Industries to seek price bids for the gas, a move that has been approved by the Centre.
A petroleum ministry person who didn’t want to be named said on Wednesday that the Centre is likely to get involved in the court battle between the two brothers, perhaps appealing to the Supreme Court.
“We are the holders of the natural resources...we have the right to seek intervention of the higher court,” this person said.
Acting on a plea for an interim order by Reliance Natural, Justice A M Khanvilkar of the Bombay High Court said Reliance Industries cannot create third party rights, other than NTPC and Reliance Natural Resources, on the gas to be produced in the first eight years of production. Reliance Industries can, however, use the gas for captive purposes, the court noted.
Reliance Industries plans to begin production from the block from July 2008, with initial production of close to 40 million standard cu. m of gas per day.
Peak output will touch 80 mmscmd later.
This is the second court order in the past two months. On 3 May, Justice Khanvilkar had, in an interim order, restrained Reliance Industries from entering into any contract for supplying to a third party the 28 mmscmd it had committed to Reliance Natural under the 2005 separation agreement between the two brothers. The court had also directed Reliance Industries not to sell the 12 mmscmd, which was to be supplied to Reliance Natural Resources, if a deal with NTPC fell through.
However, RIL had later approached the Petroleum Ministry seeking clearance of the price for the remaining amount of gas for which it has already invited bids from various companies.