Saurabh Patel hits back at GSPC's detractors

Vol 19, PW 18 (19 May 16) People & Policy

Gujarat energy minister Saurabh Patel has hit back at the state's opposition Congress party, accusing it of failing to understand the high-risk nature of E&P after it levelled corruption allegations against GSPC.

Patel issued a statement on May 7, a day after the Congress Party made a presentation to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee listing its criticisms of GSPC. He dismissed Congress party condemnation of GSPC for writing off Rs2992cr ($450m) in exploration costs.

"I am sorry the Congress is not aware of this but this is how things work in the E&P sector," said Patel. "Both ONGC and BP have each written off Rs48,000cr ($7.2bn) in exploration costs and Oil India has written off Rs1800cr ($271m)." Advising Congress to stop making sensational claims, Patel said: "In the past five years, domestic gas production has gone down from 51,229m cubic metres to 32,693m cubic metres and if E&P activities are not undertaken by companies like GSPC then India's dependence on gas imports will increase." Patel praised GSPC's work at Deen Dayal and accused Congress of creating an atmosphere of mistrust with allegations he said would scare off global companies from India.

Among Congress party officials who made the presentation to Mukherjee [himself a former veteran Congress politician] on May 6 were Ahmed Patel, political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, leader of the opposition in Gujarat Shankersinh Vaghela and party whip Balwantsinh Rajput.