RNRL asks SC to dismiss Govt plea on Ambani gas matter

RNRL asks SC to dismiss Govt plea on Ambani gas matter

New Delhi: Anil Ambani group firm RNRL on Friday asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the government’s petition on the Ambani gas dispute, saying it had no locus standi to seek any orders and it at best could only make submissions.

“An attempt is being made (by the government) to reintroduce allegations that were withdrawn before the Bombay High Court. This is clearly impermissible," said the RNRL affidavit, which counters the government’s special leave petition (SLP) that is to be heard with related matters on 20 October.

The government’s SLP, filed in July to assert its right on gas from Mukesh Ambani-led RIL’s KG basin fields, is “therefore misconceived and liable to be dismissed," RNRL said.

It clarified that the production sharing contract (PSC) gives marketing freedom to the contractor and the MoU between the group firms of the two Ambani brothers is an arrangement with regard to the part of gas earmarked for RIL in its capacity as contractor.

RNRL is fighting RIL for supply of gas at $2.34 per mmBtu citing a family agreement. The government, which had initially sought an order from the apex court to declare the family MoU as null and void, later amended it seeking to strike down only that part of the MoU that deals with gas.

Denying every allegation made by the ministy of petroleum and natural gas, RNRL said that the SLP was not maintainable and should be dismissed.

Stating that the ministry was not a party but just an intervener in the gas dispute before the Bombay High Court, RNRL said anyway the government’s share of gas was protected under the Production Sharing Contract and it was completely outside the purview of the disputes between RIL and RNRL.

As regards the issue of pricing, on which RIL has been maintaining that it needs government approval, RNRL pointed out that even the High Court in its judgement in June had held that the price for the purpose of valuation was required to be fixed by the government, but the sale price could be decided by RIL.

While the Centre may fix the price for the valuation purposes at $4.2 per mmBtu, it was open for RIL to sell at a lower price. RIL was bound to supply gas to RNRL at $2.34 and the same does not in any manner affect the government’s rights to fix gas prices.

It also accused the government of not apprising the apex court of all the relevant facts and documents. The price discovered by NTPC through international competitive bidding process was the only market reality based price discovery available for take or pay based on long-term gas purchase commitments intended for setting up green field projects.

“There is nothing in (the) production sharing contract (PSC) which stops a contractor from selling the gas at a price lower than the value ascribed by the government...Any other interpretation would restrict the liberty of the contractor and would be detrimental to private sector participation in this crucial sector of the economy," RNRL stated.

It said that the gas supply arrangement provided by the MoU was like any other commercial gas supply arrangement made by the contractor for sale of gas.

RNRL further stated that the gas was to be utilised by it for power generation, which was a priority sector, and not only for the pressing need of the nation but also strictly in accordance with the priorities under the National Gas Utilisation policy and EGoM’s decisions in this regard.

The EGoM in 2007 had fixed the price from RIL’s KG-D6 blocks at $4.20 per mmBtu.

According to the affidavit, the Centre while amending its plea had mentioned that the EGoM’s decision was without prejudice to NTPC’s case and the same empowered panel said that it was without prejudice to both NTPC and RNRL.