MP takes aim at ONGC plans to hire Seadrill rig

Vol 20, PW 15 (20 Apr 17) People & Policy

Anonymous complaints against Seadrill's victory in an ONGC tender to hire two deepwater drillships are now openly supported by BJP Member of Parliament Chhote Lal Kharwar, say ONGC sources.

Kharwar wrote to oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on March 10 expressing concern over ONGC's intention to award a three-year contract to Seadrill. Kharwar represents Robertsganj, a constituency in Uttar Pradesh, in the Lok Sabha or lower house of Parliament.

"After receiving Kharwar's letter," we hear, "Pradhan's office wrote to (ONGC chairman DK) Sarraf seeking an immediate response." Kharwar's letter quoted news reports of Seadrill's $14bn debt and plans to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. On February 28, a day after ONGC opened its price bid, Seadrill announced it is in restructuring talks with lenders and potential new investors and clarified it will consider filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 only if it fails to reach agreement with lenders and new investors.

"Respected sir," reads Kharwar's letter. "You will agree that for ONGC to consider awarding such an important three-year contract to a company on the brink of liquidation is not in the best interests of our nation." Contacted by PETROWATCH, Kharwar displayed selective amnesia, saying he doesn't remember writing a letter.

"I don't recollect this matter," he said by phone on April 10. "Send the letter to my address in Delhi and I will see."