Sucheta Dalal :PMO seeks oil ministry comments on Anil Ambani's allegations
Sucheta Dalal

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PMO seeks oil ministry comments on Anil Ambani's allegations  

July 22, 2009


The Prime Minister's office (PMO) is believed to have asked for urgent comments from the petroleum ministry, following accusations made by Anil Ambani for supporting Mukesh-led Reliance Industries in the ongoing dispute over gas supply.
In a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the younger Ambani had sought a direction to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas to avoid overtly and covertly intervention in the commercial dispute between the two companies.
According to sources, the PMO has asked the ministry to examine the matter and submit their comments urgently.
Anil Ambani had said: "We have recently seen a spate of unfortunate public utterances with unusual frequency, by various functionaries in the Petroleum Ministry to the print and electronic media, in a manner not witnessed in any other part of the government, that too on a matter that is sub judice in the Supreme Court."
Ambani's letter was first reported two days after the government filed a special leave petition, challenging the Bombay High Court’s decision which directed RIL to supply gas to Anil’s group company Reliance Natural Resrouces Ltd (RNRL) at $2.34 per mmBtu and also seeking a direction to declare the MoU signed between the two groups in connection with gas supply as ‘null and void’.
The SC will hear the case on 1st September on the admissibility of the petition along with the cross petitions filed by the two brothers, challenging the Bombay High Court’s decision. RIL said it cannot supply gas without the government's nod, while RNRL wants immediate implementation of the order.
Anil has accused the oil ministry of saying that the ministry’s stand in the SC was in total variance with what it had said in Parliament. Seeking protection from the partisan and biased approach of the petroleum ministry, the younger Ambani had offered to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to explain the issues.
In response to the cross-appeals filed by the two brothers, the government first in its affidavit and then through a separate petition asserted its rights to fix the gas prices and its utilisation. However, the government on many occasions stated in the Parliament that it does not fix gas price and that under the Production Sharing Contract, the operators have the freedom to market the gas," Anil noted.
Anil said, on several occasions, the petroleum ministry has told the Parliament that it has no role in fixing gas price. He annexed copies of questions raised in the Parliament, even once early this year, wherein Petroleum Minister or his deputies had said, "As per the Production Sharing Contract, the 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." Anil urged the Prime Minister.

Sucheta Dalal

-- Sucheta Dalal