Shell and ONGC criticised by Rajasthan government

Vol 6, PW 7 (05 Jun 02) Exploration & Production

Rajasthans Administrative Reforms Commission has sharply criticised Shell, ONGC and to a lesser extent Oil India for their lacklustre hydrocarbon exploration efforts in the state.

Read the commission's 11th annual report on petroleum, gas and lignite to know why Rajasthan is very angry. It even hints Shell could be in league with India's arch foe and neighbour Pakistan.

"Whereas Shell has done a very fast job in Pakistan and made available petroleum and gas in abundance there, in Rajasthan it has done hardly anything." Commission chairman and former state chief minister Shiv Charan Mathur finds Shell's Rajasthan record "quite intriguing" and suspects "whether such lack of progress might not be a deliberate attempt to retard India's progress, and allow a possible exploitation of Indian side of reserves by Pakistan through natural flow of material beneath the ground level." ONGC and Oil India are similarly hauled up. "It is very painful to learn that in about 40 years of its existence ONGC has been able to drill only 70 wells and that the supply of gas has not exceeded 50,000 cm/d.

Oil India has been somewhat better in the sense that it has been able to supply about 450,000 cm/d gas. But even this achievement is far short of the desired targets." Rajasthan accuses ONGC and Oil India of defaulting on a commitment to supply 14.5-lakh cm/d gas to the proposed 160-MW Ramgarh power plant.

"Worst has been the performance of (private) Phoenix Overseas and (lignite miners) Hindustan Vidyut Corporation and West Power. It is incredible to find that these companies are yet to even start their operations." One could go on.