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‘The Ambani gas dispute will affect Brand India’

business Updated: Aug 19, 2009 21:01 IST
Anupama Airy
Anupama Airy
Hindustan Times
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Just before he left for Houston and Calgary in the US (to be followed by London, Perth and Brisbane) to invite bids for India’s biggest-ever auction of 70 oil and gas blocks, VK Sibal, director general, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, in a candid admission, said that in the ongoing dispute between the Ambani brothers over the pricing and allocation of gas one casualty has been India’s image in the global petroleum market.

Excerpts:

As you begin your roadshows for the oil and gas auction, do you think the ongoing dispute between Mukesh and Anil Ambani will affect investments? Are you prepared?
It will certainly have a negative impact on the global investment inflow in India’s oil and gas sector. We took years to create India as a good brand for investments in its oil and gas sector. This brand has now been hit by the ongoing controversy between the two Ambani brothers. We will try and counter such doubts but this will indeed affect the brand India.

Have you got any feelers from firms and bidders on this?
At the recent domestic road show held in Mumbai, representatives of firms like ExxonMobil, Chevron, British Gas and Shell did express concerns that the ongoing controversy over gas from KG D6 will hurt India.

Can you quantify the impact as an investment inflow of around $3 billion (Rs 14,500 crore) is expected to be generated from this offering?
It is difficult to quantify the impact. Many companies are now expressing that if India’s own companies are raising concerns on the lack of transparency in the system, why should they invest. So all these ongoing developments will have a international impact, Investors will be cautious.

What strategy have you chalked out to counter such doubts?
We are ready to face all questions. Our response to all this is that the controversy has been generated out of a fierce family battle, which has come on the street. The government or the DGH has nothing to do with it and it has nothing to do with trust in the system.

What do you have to say on the public statements and advertisements by the Anil Ambani group on the huge losses that NTPC and the government will have to incur if the sale of gas from KG D6 is sold at the government approved price of $4.20 (Rs 206) per unit versus $2.34 (Rs 115) negotiated earlier?
I cannot say anything as the matter is subjudice. But certainly there is no end to it. There is a public report by Goldman Sachs on KG D6 block. They have done some 32 similar reports on other companies. The report clearly say that KGD6 is the most effective and fastest projects being developed in the world.

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