Reddy to be first oil minister to visit KG-D6 gas block

Petroleum and natural gas minister Jaipal Reddy will visit the Krishna-Godavari D6 gas block operated by Reliance Industries Ltd early next week to get a first-hand view of the reasons for the slump in production from India's biggest gas find, on which it has banked heavily for its fuel needs.

The visit could occur as soon as Sunday, say reports.

Many observers are surprised that this will be the first visit by the minister to a gas field that was expected to take care of a large fraction of the country's energy needs.

Sagging production and alleged inflation of development costs in the K-G basin has been making headlines for several months. It is also under sharp scrutiny by the government, as the sinking production has put its energy planning out of gear.

The Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) submitted a report last year saying RIL has inflated development costs in order to boost its bottomline; a charge that the Mukesh Ambani-controlled RIL has strongly denied.

At the same time, customers like power and fertiliser producers are stranded with huge investments. Banking on KG-D6 gas, companies like Reliance Power (promoted by Mukesh's brother and rival Anil Ambani) find they have no fuel for their plants.