Row with DGH official mars NELP-VI meeting in Delhi

Vol 10, PW 9 (24 Aug 06) People & Policy

Most who attended hoped it would be an educational exchange of views between NELP-VI bidders and the DGH.

But it ended up leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many, especially from Indian companies, who complained of racial discrimination when only foreign bidders were invited to dinner after the workshop on 10th August in Delhi to bring together NELP-VI bidders and the DGH before the bid closing deadline on 15th September. One participant tells us trouble began when Dr VK Rao of Reliance Energy was making his presentation.

Savinder Gupta (a DGH official) sent a chit to the dais presumably asking Dr Rao to stop his presentation, we hear. Gupta was apparently objecting to Dr Rao pointing out that Phase-I in each block required the compulsory shooting of a particular amount of 2D but that no marks would be given for this.

Similarly Phase-II mandated the drilling of one well, again without any marks or scores. Dr Rao, we hear, reminded bidders that this was a grey area, as they would have to make investments to carry out these non-biddable work items.

We understand Dr Rao also presented cost estimates for the compulsory 2D and exploration wells on each block. As soon as Dr Rao finished speaking, says a source.

Gupta went up to the dais and began countering what he said. Among other things, Gupta said Dr Rao had talked about the mandatory well in Phase-II but did not mention that there was the walk-out option after Phase-I.

More was to come. Towards the end of his rebuttal, Gupta remarked that Dr Rao is also one of the bidders and that they should take what he says with a pinch of salt.

Gupta closed by saying that clarifications would be given in the technical presentation by the DGH boss VK Sibal at the dinner for foreign delegates.