Gas lobby group begins work to influence new law

Vol 8, PW 18 (01 Dec 04) People & Policy

Seven oil companies with gas interests in India have set up an informal industry lobby group to spearhead the demand for a separate gas regulator to oversee the gas business in India.

The companies are: British Gas, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Reliance, Gujarat State Petroleum, Gujarat Gas Company and Gujarat Paguthan Energy Corporation. All these companies are investors in the Indian gas industry, a group member tells us.

We want the (proposed) Petroleum Regulatory Bill to define in clear terms the conditions of investment in the gas industry. Called the Gas Industry Group, the groups strategy is rooted in a conviction that India needs billion of dollars investment to set up world-class gas infrastructure, from transmission pipelines to gas distribution zones.

We are waiting to invest huge sums of money, he adds. But first we need a clear regulatory framework.

A source reveals the group has a two-pronged strategy. First, to convince ministry officials to introduce pro-gas changes to the Petroleum Regulatory Bill before it becomes law.

Second, to persuade the standing committee on petroleum and natural gas to make changes to the proposed regulation. The new legislation would allow the government to interfere in the regulators work, adds our source.

This is completely against the principle of setting up an independent regulator! Sensing the imminent appointment of a single regulator for the whole petroleum sector, the group has already sent detailed comments on the impending legislation to oil minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, oil secretary Sushil Tripathi and Planning Commission member Kirit Parekh.

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