Delhi High Court delays Dabhol breakwater tender

Vol 14, PW 21 (21 Apr 11) Midstream & Downstream

Ratnagiri Gas has been forced by the Delhi High Court to postpone the bid submission deadline in a tender to construct a breakwater for the Dabhol LNG terminal in Maharashtra.

Interested companies were originally required to submit bids by March 28 but this has been extended to May 31, 2011, we hear. Blame the delay on Indian EPC contractor RDS Project, which had complained to the Delhi High Court against Ratnagiri’s decision to scrap the previous tender.

RDS was lowest bidder in October 2009 to construct a breakwater at Dabhol, quoting Rs400cr ($88m). It looked set to win the contract until a disgruntled rival bidder alleged RDS had violated the tender terms.

“We had to get these allegations verified as they were widely reported,” explains a Ratnagiri source. RDS, he adds, should have completed a breakwater of at least 400-metres length under a single contract in the past 10 years to qualify for the Dabhol tender.

But detailed investigations by Ratnagiri revealed RDS tried to qualify by citing two separate breakwater contracts executed for the ministry of surface transport: one of 190 metres and the other 200 metres. So Ratnagiri disqualified RDS, scrapped the tender and issued a fresh tender in 2010.

But the Delhi High Court intervened on March 14, 2011, ordering Ratnagiri to postpone the bid submission deadline for the fresh breakwater tender until the court rules on the RDS case; the next hearing is on May 4. It seems the court is only waiting for the ministry of surface transport to submit an ‘affidavit’ about the contracts cited by RDS to qualify for the Dabhol tender.

This affidavit should be filed by the end of April but the court could then give RDS another two weeks to submit a ‘counter affidavit’.