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Parliament was flooded with queries on gas deals

Parliamentarians had been questioning discrepancies in oil and gas business of private explorers over the past three years on House floor — the irregularities that are now brought to light by the state auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

business Updated: Jun 15, 2011 23:54 IST
Zia Haq

Parliamentarians had been questioning discrepancies in oil and gas business of private explorers over the past three years on House floor — the irregularities that are now brought to light by the state auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Archival records from Parliament show private explorers were being keenly watched by MPs of various parties after a new joint venture system —which allowed them to explore and produce oil and gas for the first time — was introduced.

The CAG, in a report not yet made public, has said energy companies had overstated costs of developing gas fields, so that they could fetch higher profits. The audit also viewed the whole production-sharing contract system as one that benefited private firms unfairly.

On February 22 this year, Rashtryia Janata Dal MP Ram Kripal Yadav, in a written question, asked the petroleum ministry whether the Cairn-Vendata combine, which bagged a licence to operate an oilfield in Rajasthan, has previous experience in oil business.

In its reply, the minister of state for oil and petroleum stated that Vedanta had no such experience.

Left MP Tapan Sen, during Parliament’s Zero Hour on August 19 last year, wanted to know why the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which has 30% participating interest in some Rajasthan oilfields, did not claim its “first right of acquisition”, despite oil being a national asset.

In his question on May 4 last year, BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad had enquired if Cairn India Limited was exploring beyond its permitted areas.

CPM’s Mohd. Amin, in question on March 18, 2008, had sought to know if Reliance Industries had overstated its capital expenditure by $10 billion, a key finding of the CAG audit.

The CAG report is a draft which has been sent to the oil ministry for comments.