Sucheta Dalal :Anil Ambani hits at Oil Ministry for volte-face on gas price; moves PM
Sucheta Dalal

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Anil Ambani hits at Oil Ministry for volte-face on gas price; moves PM  

July 20, 2009


Industrialist Anil Ambani has virtually accused the oil ministry of doing a volte-face on gas pricing, saying its stand in the Supreme Court was in total variance with what it had said in Parliament, reports PTI.
Seeking protection against what he called the overt and covert attempts and ‘partisan and biased approach’ of the petroleum ministry to intervene in a commercial dispute with RIL, Anil wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offering to meet and explain the issues.
When contacted, Anil Ambani group spokesperson said Monday that a communication was sent to Prime Minister, but a RIL spokesperson declined to comment.
Incidentally, the news of the letter dated 15th July surfaced on a day when the Supreme Court was to hear cross- appeals filed by an Anil group firm RNRL and Mukesh-led RIL challenging the Bombay High Court decision on the gas row.
Unfortunately RIL was influencing the ministry to adopt a 'partisan and biased' approach and there was an unusually high frequency of public utterances by its officials on a sub- judice matter which is before the Supreme Court now, he said.
In response to the cross-appeals, the government first in its affidavit and then through a separate petition asserted its rights to fix gas prices and its utilisation.
Anil said on at least 13 occasions Petroleum Ministry has told Parliament that it has no role in fixing gas price.
He annexed copies of questions raised in Parliament, even once early this year, wherein Petroleum Minister or his deputies said: "As per the Production Sharing Contract...government does not fix gas price of gas. The role of the government is to approve the valuation..."
"You may kindly direct the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, directorate general of hydrocarbons and other relevant ministries and departments to cease from "overtly and covertly attempting to intervene in our commercial disputes with RIL..." Anil asked the Prime Minister.
The government, in its petition, wanted the court to declare as "null and void" the Ambani family settlement that provides for RIL to supply gas to RNRL.
In his five-page letter, along with 16-page annexure, Anil repeatedly made it clear that was not questioning the government's "ownership, rights and entitlements" in the KG-D6 fields, but wanted the government to remain equidistant in a commercial dispute.
"We're not claiming any rights to KG-D6 gas fields, whether through any family settlement, contractual claims or otherwise... Reliance ADA Group is only seeking gas from RIL's lawful share or entitlement of production and not from government share," he said.

-- Sucheta Dalal