The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naik mediates to end ONGC-British Gas row

New Delhi, Oct. 9: Petroleum minister Ram Naik today stepped in to sort out the long-standing dispute between Oil and Natutral Gas Corporation (ONGC) and British Gas over management control of Panna-Mukta and Tapti gasfields which the two are supposed to run along with Reliance.

Naik is believed to have advised ONGC to share control, giving British Gas significant positions in technical and financial management of the fields. This advice was given after BG chairman Richard Giordano and chief executive Frank Chapman met him promising fresh investments in the field to raise production from a current 8 million metric standard cubic metres of gas per day to 14 mmscmpd.

The petroleum minister told reporters afterwards, “We are interested in attracting investments. We cannot have rows ruining our projects; I have asked both to sort out the finer details of the issue by end-October.”

The row between the two large exploration giants has meant stalling of work at the fields and a daily loss of Rs 1.5 crore.

Naik said all three partners were capable of running the two fields but each had strengths which should be utilised in running the lucrative concessions.

ONGC, British Gas and Reliance Industries, the other partner in the Panna-Mukta and Tapti fields, have till now not been able to resolve differences in the model for a joint management of the fields.

Earlier, BG wanted sole operation rights over the fields, something which ONGC was unwilling to give up. In a bid to patch up the companies agreed on a joint management model but could not agree on the fine print.

RIL and ONGC want the chief executive and chief financial officer’s post to be given to them as together they have about 70 per cent stake in all (ONGC 40 per cent and RIL 30 per cent) while BG is given just the chief operating officer’s post.

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