Ray on damage control mission to Deen Dayal

Vol 15, PW 12 (15 Dec 11) Exploration & Production

This holiday season Tapan Ray will have the unenviable task of trying to calm escalating political tensions over GSPC’s development drilling programme at Deen Dayal West.

GSPC managing director Ray is expected to leave Gandhinagar after a board meeting scheduled on December 15. But he’s not going on vacation.

Instead, he will head to the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to rebuild GSPC’s reputation in nearly 63 fishing villages. Trouble began early this year when local politicians in Andhra Pradesh and former French colony Puducherry began a smear campaign against GSPC, demanding it pay heavy compensation to local fishermen for alleged damage to their livelihoods.

On October 16, nearly 10,000 fishermen in 500 fishing boats besieged GSPC’s new KG-8 ‘well-head’ platform at Deen Dayal West, which was only narrowly rescued by the Indian coastguard. A day later, Magistrate P.

Jawahar of Yanam district in Puducherry was forced to issue an order prohibiting the assembly of four or more fishermen at any given time. On November 17, after a board meeting lasting several hours, GSPC directors authorised Ray to act quickly to ensure Deen Dayal West drilling goes ahead.

This decision, we hear, received the backing of Gujarat’s government last week. Ray’s peace mission down south will include meetings with government officials, fishermen, community leaders, non-profit organisations and journalists in Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

He is expected to offer a series of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Still unclear is if Ray will agree to spend Rs100cr ($18.3m) as demanded by Puducherry politicians.

“I view this as an operational problem and the GSPC managing director is in the best position to solve it,” said a senior Gandhinagar official. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, he adds, believes the trouble at Deen Dayal West could have been “anticipated and prevented.