H-Energy challenges PNGRB impartiality claim

Vol 20, PW 1 (22 Sep 16) People & Policy

'Conflict of interest' accusations have been levelled against the PNGRB over its decision to scrap a tender for an eastern gas pipeline after Mumbai-based H-Energy bid lowest.

The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) will hear H-Energy's case against the PNGRB on September 23 with both parties told to submit statements by that date as directed on August 12. H-Energy filed its appeal on August 8, protesting a PNGRB order issued on July 15 which annulled the tender to lay a 750-km pipeline from Contai in West Bengal to Paradip in Orissa passing through Duttapulia in West Bengal and Jajpur, Dhamra and Cuttack in Orissa.

H-Energy's main argument is that the July 15 PNGRB order was signed by additional adviser Arvind Kumar, who is on loan from IndianOil - the bidder ranked second after H-Energy in the tender where price bids were opened on May 12. This, argues H-Energy, compromises the PNGRB's decision-making process.

In its appeal, H-Energy also cites an article published in the July 28 issue of PETROWATCH, quoting an IOC source saying it wrote to the PNGRB "a couple of weeks after" price bids were opened to demand that H-Energy's bid is rejected. H-Energy claims this violates Clauses 26.1 and 27.2 of the PNGRB bid document which says: "Any effort by a bidder to influence the PNGRB in any manner in respect of bid evaluation or award will result in rejection of that bid."