Essar steps up pressure for Ratna PSC signing

Vol 6, PW 16 (09 Oct 02) Exploration & Production

ESSAR OIL IS angry over continued delay in signing a PSC for its Ratna oilfield.

Last month, Essar boss Ravi Ruia met oil minister Ram Naik and requested an "early decision," especially since a crucial 19th August meeting of the Negotiating Team of Secretaries examined the matter in detail. Also in September, Essar sent a three-page letter to Shastri Bhawan expressing surprise over its demand for clarifications.

"We are surprised to receive yet another communication for additional clarifications." Essar claims it already sent such clarifications in earlier correspondence and reminds Shastri Bhawan that such clarifications had not been sought regarding the ten other awards in the same bidding round. "This constitutes a departure from what is normally asked for and is perhaps due to - as stated in various media sources - the use by a rival business house (Read: Reliance) of MPs (Read: Amar Singh) to write letters and raise frivolous questions so as to delay the signing of the PSC." Essar continues: "We trust such an effort by our rivals would not further delay the signing of the PSC.

We are sure that the government would not seek to discriminate against us and especially not at the behest of a rival business house." Essar said it is willing to offer clarifications, "to demonstrate our commitment, sincerity and transparency." As for the clarifications, Essar said it is"fully committed" to obligations under the initialled PSC "including all financial obligations".