New Delhi, May 15 (IANS): The oil ministry and the watchdog were Thursday asked by the Delhi High Court to reply to charges by ONGC that Reliance Industries pumped more gas than its entitlement.
The plea by the state-run firm said Reliance was not only pumping gas from its own entitled fields but also from those of itself - the Oil and Natural Gas Corp.
For the record, the fields owned by the Reliance-led consortium in the Krishna-Godavari basin in Andhra Pradesh, where the two rivers join the Bay of Bengal, and those by ONGC are contiguous.
"All petroleum operations undertaken by RIL have been in accordance with production-sharing contract and the development plan approved by management committee, which has government representatives with veto powers," a Reliance (RIL) spokesperson told IANS.
"All well locations and well profiles have been specifically reviewed and approved by the management committee."
The Delhi High Court bench of Justice Manmohan sought response from the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, as also the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, and RIL before the next hearing May 29.
The ONGC plea said its petition was necessitated by a belief, based on seismic data made available by the defendant company that while exploiting its own assets, it also extracted gas from ONGC blocks.
The petition further said the watchdog failed to take steps to prevent such a situation, resulting in a loss of crores of rupees to ONGC.
It also alleged the government had not followed the internationally accepted global norm for "joint development" that had been provided for in the production-sharing contract (PSC).
It wanted an independent agency to ascertain the gas drawn by RIL.
The Reliance spokesperson said the firm has been engaging with ONGC to share data and finding a suitable resolution through appointment of an independent third-party expert - latest being May 9.
The spokesperson also said the two companies-ONGC and RIL-had a minutes of a meeting to record such an understanding, adding that any inference otherwise was speculation and the suit unwarranted.
"Any claims of any impropriety on the part of RIL, if these have been made, are baseless and RIL will take appropriate steps to safeguards its position and rights."