'Delhi supports our bidding round,' says Nagaland

Vol 16, PW 20 (02 May 13) Exploration & Production

TR Zeliang, Nagaland minister for geology, mining and forests, claims the central government in Delhi supports his state's oil and gas bidding round.

Zeliang met PETROWATCH at Nagaland House in Delhi on April 11 for an exclusive interview to talk about bids to explore oil and gas in 11 districts in this far-flung state on the border with Myanmar. “We are looking at EoIs from 23 companies,” Zeliang tells us.

"We will soon shortlist companies with the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas Board which will recommend companies for award to a ministerial group that will take the final decision." Zeliang strenuously denies Nagaland is holding the bidding round in defiance of the oil ministry, saying EoIs were invited in line with Article 371-A (1) (a) of the Constitution of India.

“Till date no one from the ministry or DGH has asked us to stop,” says Zeliang. Article 371-A (1) (a) grants the Naga people exceptional rights over their land and natural resources.

Zeliang stresses that Naga state authorities took four years to formulate rules for oil and gas E&P in this landlocked state of hardly 2m people on the Myanmar border. “I headed the cabinet sub-committee to prepare the rules,” says Zeliang.

“We involved student unions, village councils, Naga tribal heads and even the Supreme Naga Hoho council." Zeliang believes the central government must help protect Naga rights.

“We will seek advice and guidance from central government on dealing with oil and gas companies,” he says. “Central government will also be consulted when the time comes to evacuate oil and gas.

We have abundant resources but only a small market for oil and gas consumption.”