Delay at law ministry holds up discovered fields PSC

Vol 4, PW 14 (16 Aug 00) Exploration & Production

There is still no firm date for the signing of ten Production Sharing Contracts for discovered fields, despite the fact that negotiations are complete.

"We are at the end of the process," a source tells this report, "In December last year we began negotiations for 12 fields (including Ratna). Out of the 12 fields, negotiations for 10 are complete." So why the delay "The files are still with the law ministry." He adds: "Once internal approvals are over, well set a date and sign the contracts.

We are going as quickly as we can." Personnel changes in the law ministry are blamed for the delay. Arun Jaitley, the former minister for disinvestment, is settling into his new job as law minister, following the dramatic dismissal of his predecessor Ram Jethmalani last month.

In India, ministers tend to spend the first month of a new job familiarising themselves with their new ministry. The delay has perplexed some of the awardees: "We initialled the PSC page by page in March and returned it," Kashi Mayan, finance director at Hydrocarbon Resources, tells Petrowatch, "We were told it will be signed in April but then the finance ministry wanted some clarifications and these were given.

In May we were asked to agree to some changes in the take-off agreement with Indian Oil Corporation. We agreed and sent it on July 6th.

After that there has been no word from the oil ministry." Other companies experience similar frustration.