Rig Tender: Jindal fights ONGC in Delhi High Court

Vol 18, PW 12 (12 Feb 15) Exploration & Production

Jindal Drilling has won a minor victory against ONGC in the Delhi High Court, forcing the state-owned explorer to back down in a dispute over its decision to scrap Category-IV of its 2014 tender to hire 12 jack-ups.

Jindal, which was sole valid bidder in Category-IV, filed the case on January 29, accusing ONGC of planning a fresh tender even though it had submitted a valid bid which was rejected. On the same day, ONGC’s lawyers assured Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed that it would issue no fresh jack-up tenders for the next 45 days, or before March 15.

Justice Ahmed asked ONGC to submit all the relevant papers to the court in time for the next hearing, scheduled for February 18. Jindal lawyers argued it was ready to negotiate a contract with ONGC based on current low rates.

ONGC lawyers countered that, even though the company is short by four rigs, it has no “valid requirement” for them. Jindal wants a court order against any new jack-up tender by ONGC until its case is decided and will no doubt be feeling vindicated by Justice Ahmed's comment that Jindal should have been given an opportunity to win the contract through price negotiations.

Despite its court assurance, ONGC's Executive Committee on February 3 approved a proposal to tender for seven jack-ups, including two high-tech rigs, for three years each.