Mumbai: The country’s oil regulator has called an emergency meeting with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Hardy Oil and Gas Plc. on Wednesday to discuss a claim that two of their offshore areas may hold as much as 20 trillion cu. ft of natural gas.
“It was a false, wrong claim,” V.K. Sibal, head of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, said over the phone from New Delhi on Tuesday. “They haven’t followed regulatory guidelines in announcing the reserves and this can be very misleading for everyone.”
The D-3 and D-9 fields off the east coast, in which RIL, India’s biggest company, owns a 90% stake, may hold as much as 9.5 trillion cu. ft and 10.8 trillion cu. ft of gas, respectively, UK-based partner Hardy Oil had said on 27 May, citing estimates by consultant Gaffney, Cline and Associates Ltd.
Influencing stocks? V.K. Sibal, head of the directorate general of hydrocarbons. PIB
The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons has contested the authenticity of the claims of gas reserves, The Economic Times reported on Tuesday, citing Sibal.
RIL spokesperson Tushar Pania, based in Mumbai, declined to comment on the report. Perayya Sastry Karra, chief executive officer and co-founder of Hardy Oil, couldn’t be reached by telephone at his office in London.
“Letters have been written to the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the London Stock Exchange that the claims haven’t been verified by the oil regulator,” Sibal said. “Hardy’s announcement is indicative of a dubious attempt to influence the share market sentiments in their favour,” Sibal said in his letter to the Indian stock market regulator dated 29 May.
RIL shares closed 0.07% down at Rs2,279.20 in Mumbai trading after declining as much as 2.6% during the day. The stock has advanced 81% this year compared with a 52% gain for the Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-share benchmark sensitive index.
India requires oil and gas explorers to submit data and get them vetted by the oil regulator before making announcements of estimated reserves.
India, the world’s second fastest growing major economy, is trying to attract investments in energy exploration to reduce dependence on imports and make up for shrinking supplies from ageing domestic fields. The nation imports at least 75% of its oil needs.
Hardy Exploration and Production India Inc., the local unit of Hardy Oil, holds 10% in each of the two areas, located in the Krishna-Godavari basin in the Bay of Bengal. RIL didn’t respond to emailed questions when Hardy Oil announced the estimates.