RIL 'saddened' by ONGC's gas 'theft' allegations; says DGHCbeing misled

Reliance Industries Ltd said on Friday that it felt "saddened" by the Oil & Natural Gas Corp's allegations that it was illegitimately drawing gas from fields belonging to ONGC in the Krishna-Godavari basin; but added that since the matter was sub judice, it called for restraint by both parties.

"We deny the claim of apparent 'theft' of gas from G4 & KG DWN 98/2 Block by Reliance Industries and can only attribute it to the likelihood of some elements in ONGC misleading the new chairman and managing director D K Sarraf, in order to hide their own failure to develop discoveries made over the last 13 years in these blocks," the company said in a statement.

A day earlier, ONGC, the state-owned explorer, had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court alleging that RIL was drawing natural gas from an offshore block in the Bay of Bengal that ONGC controls – or in effect, that RIL is stealing ONGC's gas. (See: ONGC takes RIL to court over 'stealing' of its Krishna-Godavari gas)

"It was only in August 2013 that ONGC brought the issue of possible connectivity between reservoirs in RIL and ONGC blocks, to the notice of RIL through DGH (Directorate General of Hydrocarbons)," said the statement, adding efforts have been on by the two firms since then to appoint an independent agency to probe the matter.

The company also listed some specific engagements in this regard.

"Since the process for appointing this agency as per international practice was already well under way, it is indeed unfortunate that some elements in ONGC forced invocation of the Delhi High Court at this juncture," the statement said.

"In any case, ONGC already having filed a petition in the Hon'ble Delhi High Court, we would have expected greater restraint in a matter that has been made sub judice by them."

The statement also said RIL sees ONGC as a valued industry peer with which it wants to collaborate in continued discovering, developing and producing hydrocarbons to benefit the country.