Corporate Aug 19, 2014
New Delhi: Rebuking ONGC for making "frivolous allegations" against the government, the Petroleum Ministry has told the Delhi High Court that the state-owned firm woke up from slumber to allege that its gas may be flowing out of wells of Reliance Industries' KG-D6 fields.
ONGC had on May 15 filed a petition in the Delhi High Court alleging that RIL may have drawn natural gas worth thousands of crores of rupees from its fields that sit next to Mukesh Ambani-run firm's KG-D6 block Krishna Godavari basin.
It made the Government of India as well as Oil Ministry's technical arm DGH respondents alleging they didn't do enough to protect its right.
The Ministry in a counter affidavit filed last week stated that ONGC "never raised any issue on connectivity of reservoirs/channels" ever since it was granted mining lease of the Godavari PML Block (G-4) in 2008 and even when RIL started production from KG-D6 in April 2009.
"The petitioner (ONGC) woke up from slumber only in July 2013, when he requested the government to provide the G&G (Geological and Geophysical) data that too to analyse the continuity of the pool," it said.
The Ministry sought rejection of the petition on the ground that ONGC "was never vigilant and mindful of his rights" and "cannot now turn around and make frivolous allegations against the Government of India."
It said ONGC had prayed for appointment of an independent agency to establish continuity of reservoir across between its G-4 and KG-DWN-98/2 blocks and RIL's KG-DWN-98/3 or KG-D6 block.
The writ petition of ONGC has become "infructuous pursuant to the appointment of the independent agency ie DeGolyer & MacNaughton (D&M)" on July 3, it said. A similar counter-affidavit was also filed by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).
The Ministry stated that when ONGC brought the matter to its notice, it along with DGH undertook all necessary efforts to resolve the matter amicably and various meetings have been conducted leading to RIL agreeing to appoint an independent technical agency to ascertain connectivity of reservoirs across ONGC and KG-D6 block.
"Hence the petition is pre-mature and should be dismissed on that short score," it said.
RIL has already countered ONGC's claim of gas worth Rs 30,000 crore flowing from its fields to the neighbouring KG-D6 block, saying legal proceedings initiated against it are "mala fide and actuated by malice."
It has told the Delhi High Court that it was impossible to allege, much less conclude, that the discoveries within the ONGC and RIL blocks are connected. RIL said ONGC had "no locus standi to file the petition" as the suit was filed "entirely on the belief" of ONGC, rather than on technical data or any legal right.
All wells drilled by RIL during the development of D1-D3 field in KG-D6 are well within the boundaries of Block KG-D6 as allocated to the company following international competitive bidding.
In the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin, ONGC operates the Godavari block (G-4) and one NELP-I discovery Block KG-DWN-98/2 (KG-D5), which are contiguous to the RIL-operated NELP-I Block KG-D6. Both ONGC and RIL have made hydrocarbon discoveries (G4-2, G4-3 & G4-5 in G4, D1 in KG-D5 by ONGC and D1, D3 in KG D6 by RIL).
While RIL is producing gas from the D1-D3 field in KG-D6 Block since 2009, ONGC is yet to start development of discoveries in its blocks.
Disclosure: Network 18, which publishes Firstpost and Firstbiz, is now part of the Reliance Group
More From R Jagannathan.