Veerappa Moily in New Delhi on Monday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha
New Delhi, Oct. 29: New oil minister M. Veerappa Moily today promised to take quick decisions and create a conducive environment for investments.
Moily, 72, who replaced S. Jaipal Reddy, said his priority would be to intensify domestic oil and gas exploration to reduce import dependence that had played havoc with inflation.
“Emphasis will be on quick decision making and innovation. Decisions should not be delayed. Delaying decisions will cost the nation. We do not want any delay in decisions,” he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has shifted Moily to the oil ministry from corporate affairs to instil confidence among investors concerned over the recent policy initiatives, which they perceive as regressive, and the ongoing spats between the oil ministry and private firms such as Reliance Industries and Cairn, officials said.
Moily said the decisions would be taken keeping the national interest in mind and not to “benefit one or two individuals or companies”.
Mukesh Ambani-controlled RIL had clashed with the oil ministry under Reddy over gas output from the KG-D6 block.
RIL and partner BP Plc have blamed a decline in pressure and water ingress for falling production and sought an increase in prices to justify higher expenditure to develop the block. But the government has remained unconvinced.
Moily refused to specifically comment on the possibility of a revision in the price of KG-D6 gas before a review scheduled for 2014. “I don’t want to take name of any particular company. It is a matter of detail. Decisions will be quick and hastened.”
Moily scotched speculation that Reddy’s stance had led to his shift to the science and technology ministry. He said a change in portfolio did not reflect on the performance. “This is the third (ministry) for me that does not mean I’m downgraded.”
He was in charge of law before corporate affairs.
The government plans to relax rules for oil and gas exploration licences in time for the next bidding round to attract global companies. In the past, regulatory uncertainty discouraged many of them from bidding for exploration blocks.
“Efforts will be to remove bottlenecks, if any, towards augmenting this investment on ground,” he said.
Domestic exploration will be intensified to cut reliance on imports that have led to high inflation as well as pressure on the rupee, Moily said.
Oil PSUs, he said, cannot sustain the high level of under-recoveries, or revenue losses, and ways have to be found to drastically bring them down.
“How long can you run these companies on loss. How long can you go with these kind of under-recoveries. It is criminal. We need to prepare a road map to see under-recoveries drastically comes down. I am not saying subsidy should be cut but inefficiencies have to be removed from the sector," he said.