Deep wins law ministry support for CBM bids

Vol 13, PW 20 (25 Mar 10) People & Policy

India’s law ministry has come down firmly on the side of Gujarat-based Deep Industries in its dispute with the DGH over seven blocks offered in the last CBM licensing round.

PETROWATCH learns that on March 16 the law ministry - citing legal precedent - sent its answers to a series of questions submitted by the oil ministry in January following a DGH recommendation to reject winning bids submitted by Deep for seven of eight blocks in CBM-IV. “There appears to be no legal bar in considering them (Deep) for award of the bid,â€‌ says the law ministry note, seen by this report.

Still unclear is whether the oil ministry will accept the law ministry’s opinion and endorse Deep’s winning bids for the seven CBM blocks spread across Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Assam, submitted on October 12 last year. What is clear is that oil secretary S.

Sundareshan held a closed-door meeting with colleagues on (Friday) March 19 around 4.30pm to discuss the law ministry note. When asked to confirm if the oil ministry has made a decision one way or the other, Sundareshan told this report: “I can’t make any comment at this juncture.

â€‌ No doubt the oil secretary is waiting to convey his final decision to the next meeting of the Empowered Committee of Secretaries, which includes him, and his counterparts in the law, finance and coal ministries. When will that be Possibly on April 7 - subject to final confirmation.

In December 2009, the DGH recommended rejection of all the bids submitted by Deep, saying they were incomplete. Deep later protested that the DGH about turn was motivated by â€کfrivolous’ allegations levelled against the company by rivals Arrow Energy, Great Eastern Energy and Tata Power.