Gaz de France sends Niko letter to Gujarat Petroleum

Vol 4, PW 22 (16 Dec 00) People & Policy

Niko's decision to threaten Gaz de France with legal action must count as one of the most sensational twists to this sorry tale.

In a letter dated 26th September, and seen by Petrowatch, Niko's finance vice president Paul Wright warns Jeunet Philippe, finance director at the French company, to "cease and desist from any action to acquire any part of the pipeline." Warns Wright: "Niko Resources intends to take action against any and all parties to this illegal expropriation, both in India and elsewhere." According to Niko: "The 36-inch pipeline from Hazira to Mora was conceived, proposed and designed by Niko. Gujarat Petroleum is now trying to expropriate Niko's share of the pipeline and attempting to transfer the pipeline to Gujarat State Petronet and sell the third party corporation to international corporations." He adds: "Niko wishes to inform all potential investors that this pipeline is owned in part by Niko and that an attempt is being made to illegally expropriate it and offer it for sale.

The above situation is now before the High Court in Delhi." Unknown to Niko, Gaz de France forwarded this letter to Gandhinagar. This act of "good faith" has had two immediate consequences: it has heightened anger at Gujarat Petroleum against Niko and raised the profile of Gaz de France.

Gujarat Petroleum is stalling attempts by Shell, British Gas and others to acquire a stake in Gujarat State Petronet, but it has offered Gaz De France more than the 11% it has applied for.