Notwithstanding the outcome of the ongoing gas dispute between Ambani brothers in the Bombay High Court, the government has finally decided to do some straight talking on the issue which also clarifies its take on the matter irrespective of the outcome of the court’s judgment on the gas dispute.
Stating that the government has no role in the ongoing dispute between Mukesh and Anil Ambani, a recent note of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, which also advises the petroleum ministry on oil and gas issues, said, “Petroleum in the D6 block of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in the KG basin belongs to the government and the RIL-Niko consortium is operating the block on behalf of the government.”
The letter further stated that while a share of the petroleum may get allocated to the RIL consortium to recoup its investment and expenditure as per the terms and conditions in the contract, the intent of the government is to safeguard its title on petroleum and public money from getting hampered by any of the disputes between the two associate companies —Anil’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), and Mukesh’s RIL.
Out of the disputing parties, RIL has signed a production-sharing contract with the government along with its consortium partner Niko to operate the petroleum operations in the KGD6 block. The other party to the dispute — RNRL has no locus standi in the contract.
“The government has no role to play in the dispute between RNRL and RIL as long as its title to petroleum is not hampered,” the note said, adding that the government would “oppose any restrictions placed on petroleum exploitation of the block to the extent it hampers public interest.”
The court through its interim order has recently lifted the stay on sales of the gas produced by RIL. Till a final order by the court, which is expected by mid-March, RIL has been allowed to sell gas to consumers at the government determined price of $4.2 per million british thermal unit (mBTU).