British firm seeks security before Bihar operations
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British firm seeks security before Bihar operations

Cairn Energy Search Ltd seeked seek security for its officials before starting work in the state next month.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 16:52 IST

Bihar's rising crime graph has got British oil and energy major Cairn worried, prompting it to seek security for its officials before starting work in the state next month.

Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy Search Ltd and its Indian concern, Cairn Petroleum India Ltd (CPIL), are ready to start oil exploration work from next month, a company official said.

"Our only condition is that the state government should take responsibility to provide security to our officials engaged in the work," said Rob Theriault, chief operating officer, of Cairn's Indian concern.

Top officials of the multinational are reportedly a little worried and frightened over the rising crime graph in the state and reports of poor law and order.

Their fears are not unfounded as last year two engineers of a reputed public sector company were abducted. Dozens of contractors, employees and officials with developmental projects are threatened with extortion by notorious gangsters and warned of dire consequences if the money is not coughed up.

However, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has assured Rob Theriault that the state government would provide security to its officials. Modi has directed top government officials to ensure that criminals do not obstruct the oil and gas exploration work.

Cairn Energy India Ltd announced it would go ahead with its first phase work on oil exploration.

"The work on the first phase would begin from February," Sunil Bharati, general manager of Ganga Valley CEIL said.

Bharati admitted that work was already delayed, as it was scheduled to start by October last year after the Bihar government granted it a licence for oil exploration.

In fact, the Centre had granted a licence in November 2004 but it was the state clearance that took more time. When the company finally got it in June, the monsoon season created problems.

The companies were given the licence to explore oil and gas in 12 districts spread over a 15,550 sq km area in the Gangetic basin or Purnea basin for the next seven years. The British company had shown interest in undertaking work for crude exploration in the state's Gangetic basin three years ago.

According to independent estimates, the Gangetic basin has around 465 million tonnes of crude and natural gas.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 16:52 IST