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Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan is seen to be talking tough with leading oil and gas producing public sector undertakings (PSUs) including Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL).
For the first time, ONGC and OIL, among others have been asked to explain the reasons behind drop in its oil and gas production over the past few years, especially when their private sector counterparts such as Reliance Industries Ltd and Cairn India have succeeded in making significant discoveries.
“We are ready to help them through policies but they will have to perform and increase oil and gas production… If Reliance could get latest technologies and produce from NELP (New Exploration Licensing Policy) blocks, why can’t ONGC and OIL do that,” Pradhan told HT, adding it’s shocking that while ONGC has bagged many blocks from where they have not been able to produce more oil and gas even as some private players could do so.
The minister said he is regularly meeting the managements of oil companies and also met the top brass of ONGC and OIL on Saturday, in a second review undertaken within a month of the new government taking over.
“There is no more escape now....technological advancements will have to be carried out along with increasing managerial efficiency and increase production within a stipulated time frame...and I have made this very clear,” Pradhan said.
Despite repeated attempts, ONGC chairman DK Saraff was unable for comments. A senior company official revealed that the minister has given a clear message to the company to increase its production.
On PSUs serving as cash cows for the government to pay subsidies, the minister said: “This is not a fact....PSUs were formed by the government to do business and contribute to the central exchequer and the country’s economy at large. Bearing subsidy that the government provides to its people is also like sharing the revenues with its parent... ”
“I don’t agree that by sharing revenues with the government for serving people they (PSUs) are unable to move ahead with their growth plans,” Pradhan added.