Tenure of committee looking into KG basin dispute extended till month-end

The government has extended the tenure of the single-member committee looking into the dispute between Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) regarding ownership of gas finds in their eastern offshore blocks.

ONGC blocks (KG-DWN-98/2 and Godavari PML) and RIL block (KG-DWN-98/3) in Krishna Godavari basin are adjacent blocks and forms a contiguous reservoir of natural gas. RIL, which commenced production at its gas block, has allegedly been drawing gas from ONGC's idle block.

The committee was to submit its report in three months' time. However, considering the volume of work involved and the complexity of the issue, the committee has sought extension till 31 August 2016 for submission of the report, which has been agreed to by the government.

As per the terms of reference, the committee will look into the issue of gas migration and give its recommendations in this regard.

It has been asked to ''quantify the unfair enrichment, if any, to the contractors of the adjacent block KG-DWN-98/3 (KG-D6) and measures to prevent future unfair enrichment to these contractors on account of gas migration.''

The committee has conducted hearings and has taken written submission from all stakeholders. The government will decide on the next course of action after getting the recommendations of the committee.

The committee initially sought written comments on the D&M report and the issue of connectivity of reservoir from all parties to the case. While ONGC and upstream regulator DGH responded, RIL and its partner Nikko had questioned the need for constitution of the panel and had decided not to participate in its proceedings. However, their 30 per cent partner BP plc of UK agreed to participate in the proceedings. RIL and Nikko later had a change of heart and agreed to participate in the inquiry.

The official said since RIL and Nikko submitted their response together with voluminous data late, the Shah Committee wanted more time to study it.

The committee will look into legal, financial and contractual provisions and submit a report. It has also been asked to report any ''acts of omission and commission'' on part of all the stakeholders, including RIL, ONGC, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and the government, as per the terms and reference.

The government had earlier, in March, extended the tenure of the A P Shah Committee looking into the dispute over natural gas migrating from state-owned ONGC's idle blocks in KG basin to neighbouring fields of Reliance Industries by three months, to July-end.