The CBI is likely to register the first FIR against VK Sibal, former chief of the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH), on Wednesday.
The agency alleges that Sibal, while heading the DGH, a government entity under the petroleum and natural gas ministry to manage hydrocarbon resources, allegedly caused a loss of Rs400 crore to the exchequer by favouring a US-based exploration company.
Sibal and a few other DGH officials, according to a CBI source who is not authorised to talk, favoured the company while carrying out a speculative seismic survey of 16,174 km along the east and west coasts under the new exploration licensing policy VIII at $2,166 per line km — a survey measuring unit — in 2005.
The CBI probe found that a similar survey by public sector ONGC in 2005-6 for 8,087 km cost much less — $468 per line km. But Sibal responded to HT’s queries by saying, “None of you are aware about what is speculative seismic survey, I am not interested in giving any comment.”
The CBI lodged three preliminary enquiries against Sibal in 2009 for allegedly favouring private explorers for personal benefits. The agency is likely to file more than one FIRs in this respect. The source said the data collected by the company in 2005 for 16,174 km at $2,166 was sold to private players at $60.25mn. The firm allegedly paid only $7.7mn as royalty to the DGH.