Reliance writes to Enron over Panna-Mukta-Tapti

Vol 5, PW 18 (24 Oct 01) People & Policy

Still no end in sight to the Panna-Mukta-Tapti saga.

British Gas' decision to publicise its acquisition of Enron's 30% stake has thrown up more questions than answers. For one, the oil ministry is far from amused and regards publicity of an "incomplete and conditional deal" as an attempt to "pressurise" it into "arm-twisting" ONGC.

"What was the need to go public now" a top bureaucrat repeats. The latest twist in the tale is a 9th October letter from Reliance to Larry Morse of EOGIL drawing attention to the contractual rights of the other parties in the consortium.

Going by the tone of the letter, EOGIL has yet to inform Reliance of its deal with BG. Unamused, Reliance cites "press reports" as the source of its information.

The oil ministry is nonplussed. "We don't see any role for ourselves." But what happens if Reliance and ONGC are unable to reach a consensus on operatorship "We come in only at that stage." How would the ministry decide between the two "Honestly, we don't know! As far as Reliance is concerned one could say they have never been operator anywhere so there is no track record.

But, how do we say 'no' to ONGC" Unlike with Enron, ministry mandarins are open to the idea of working with BG. "It would be nice to have BG as operator," reveals one.

"I am sure it will be better working with them than with Enron." On 3rd October British Gas announced the purchase "subject to consents and conditions" of Enron Oil and Gas India for $388m.