Independent panel to probe discrepancies in Krishna-Godavari Basin

New Delhi: An expert panel has been agreed by the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Reliance Industries to ascertain if the private firm pumped more gas than entitled.

The agreement was conveyed to the Delhi High Court Thursday after a meeting among the officials of ONGC, Reliance and the regulator to appoint the expert panel was agreed upon.

A plea by the state-run company had alleged Reliance was not only pumping gas from its own entitled fields, but also from those of ONGC.

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.

Reliance told the court that independent expert panel can determine whether its gas well is interconnected with ONGC and what was the quantum of gas drawn by it away from its entitlement, if any.

Delhi High Court’s Justice Manmohan took cognisance of the note on the minutes of the meeting filed by the central government and asked ONGC to file its reply on it by Aug 12.

ONGC, RIL and the regulator will send notices to four third-party consultants, prior to their appointment as consultants, said the minutes of the meeting, as furnished to the court.

In the meeting May 23, it was decided that all data that will be shared with the finally-selected independent agency will be done through the regulator, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.

The state-run firm’s plea said its petition was necessitated by the belief, based on seismic data made available by Reliance, that in 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 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.

It wanted an independent agency to ascertain the gas drawn by RIL.